Michigan State OLB/DE Shilique Calhoun seems like a player who would fit into Ozzie Newsome's 'solid double' strategy. Calhoun earned an impressive list of accolades while playing for Mark Dantonio's Spartans, including three All-Big Ten selections, three second team All-American honors, two-time team captain and 2015 Hendricks award finalist. The three year starter accumulated 131 tackles, 44 tackles for a loss and 27 career sacks. Calhoun definitely has the proven college production that the Ravens desire from their early draft picks.
Pro Football Focus graded Calhoun as their fifth best edge defender in 2014. He followed up his junior season with 72 quarterback pressures to lead the nation, Joey Bosa was the only edge defender with higher pass rushing grade on PFF. CBS Sports lists Calhoun's strengths as using long strides to transition speed into power, natural flexibility, quick feet, easy change of direction, stout at the point of attack and relentless playing style. NFL.com adds that Calhoun is a former basketball player with above average burst, good play recognition and awareness.
Calhoun does need to improve his strength against the run. CBS Sports notes that Calhoun loses the leverage battle too often and his technique is underdeveloped. NFL.com lists Calhoun's nine encroachment penalties last season as a weakness while concluding that he must improve his hand usage to unlock his potential as a three down player capable of defending against the run or be relegated to a situational pass rusher role. His vulnerability against the run was on full display in the College Football playoff Cotton Bowl game, when Alabama RB Derrick Henry stiff-armed Calhoun and threw him to the ground like a rag doll.
Shilique measures in at 6'5" 250 pounds. This size and length seems conducive to the outside linebacker position in the Ravens 3-4 alignment. Calhoun lined up primarily in a three point stance at Michigan State, but he does have limited experience as a standup edge rusher. Calhoun hopes to show the agility and explosion to get around the edge at the upcoming NFL combine, so 3-4 teams will feel more comfortable projecting him as an outside linebacker at the next level.
Overall, Calhoun skill set does not contain the upside that some of the elite pass rushers in this draft class do. While his ceiling is not as high as the cream of the crop pass rushers, his baseline floor as a rotational pass rusher based off three consecutive years of quality production is solid. Calhoun is currently projected as a late first to end of second round pick by most prognosticators. In need of pass rushers, the Ravens are fortunate that this draft class has a deep pool of defensive ends and outside linebackers to pick from. Shilique Calhoun is another prospect that should receive strong consideration on Day 2 in the Ravens draft war room.