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Zach Orr: Special teams stud by day, blooming defender by night?

Zach Orr surprised many when he made last years roster as a key special teams player. Can he continue to develop into a player who will get time on defense?

Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

I must admit, there is literally nothing I can tell you about backup inside linebacker Zach Orr. Following his surprise inclusion on last years roster and a stellar performance as a special teams ace, the young backer has shown solid skills on defense too through early camps and the first preseason game. He played with the first team much of the time throughout camp, with starter C.J. Mosley sidelined after hand surgery.

Orr basically did not make it on the field on defense as a first year player, with starters C.J. Mosley and  Daryl Smith playing 98.5% and 96.4% of the snaps respectively. The more experienced Albert McClellan, Orr's partner on special teams took the majority of the minimal remaining snaps. This year, based on what we have seen thus-far, Orr seems to have passed McClellan and 2013 2nd rounder Arthur Brown, and he outplayed them significantly in the first preseason game.

So who is Zachary Orr?

Orr played for North Texas and was chosen as an All-Conference USA selection and All-Academic selection. He lead the Mean Green with a career-high 123 tackles his senior with 13.5 tackles for losses and four fumble recoveries. He finished his college career with 365 tackles.

He ran the 40-yard dash in a 4.73 seconds, bench pressed 225 pounds 14 times, and has a 33-inch vertical leap and a 9-8 broad jump. Although he was projected as a borderline 7th rounder, Orr was named one of analyst Gil Brandts 49 No Name Prospects On the Rise before the 2014 draft. He ultimately went undrafted, signing with the Ravens with just a small $3,000 bonus.

But Orr was up for the task, becoming the latest in a stream of illustrious undrafted rookie free agents to make the roster, a list which includes Justin Tucker, James Hurst, Bart Scott, Daniel Ellerbe, and many more. He was a key special teamer, suiting up for all 16 games.

Orr has a football pedigree, just like 2015 draftees Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams. His father, Terry Orr won two Super Bowls while playing most of his nine-year NFL career as a tight end with the Washington Redskins.  Terry played college football at the University of Texas, where he was teammates and good friends with Zach's coach at North Texas, Todd Dodge.

Orr is now looking like a lock to make this year's roster, due to his special teams prowess and developing defensive ability. Last season, Orr was second on the team with seven special teams' stops- only McClellan had more with 13.  In the first preseason game against the Saints, he tallied 5 tackles (3 assists) and a pass defense, way outplaying his competition at backup inside linebacker. A spot on the roster is his for the taking, and it looks like he is making the most of it. With Daryl Smith less than likely to play out his contract, the spot next to C.J. Mosley is within reach for Orr. The hope is he will put in the work and become yet another starting caliber undrafted inside linebacker the Ravens have found, joining Ed Hartwell, Bart Scott, Dannell Ellerbe, and Jameel McClain.