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Ravens' rookie Za'Darius Smith expected to fill McPhee's shoes nicely

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens drafted Za'Darius Smith in the fourth round with the expectation that he would take over for the recently departed Pernell McPhee, who left for greener pastures with Chicago. Down to the hair, Smith already acts like McPhee and shows the same upside that has Ravens' fans excited for wide receiver Breshad Perriman to take over Torrey Smith's role and more. Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil certainly felt excited about what "Z" brings to the table.

Za’Darius [Smith], he’s so gifted, he’s talented. I think he’ll do it all, honestly. He can play the run some inside, so I don’t want to cap him. The sky is the limit for him. Whatever he can retain as a rookie, I’m sure the coaches will do a great job using him.

Having a player like Smith who can not only cut off the run but rush the passer, he should see some playing time quickly on a top rated defense. That confidence booster should have a positive effect on the entire defense. Dumervil elaborated when asked about how he feels about the pass rush in the absence of outside linebacker Pernell McPhee.

As long as you’ve got a guy like Terrell Suggs … We’ve got [Courtney] Upshaw, we’ve got Timmy Jernigan and the young guy ‘Z’ [Za’Darius Smith], so we’re excited. We’ve got our secondary, our staff. Taking nothing away from [Pernell] McPhee, he was a great addition last year for us, but business goes on, and I think we feel great about 2015.

It will be tough to top a 2014 season that saw the Ravens combine for 49 sacks and it will take not only a renewed effort from the veterans, but serious play from the young players, especially Za'Darius Smith. But for now, he looks the part and is acting the part for this defense.