Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley had an up and down sophomore season in 2015. He did accumulate four sacks and force a big fumble. But he was not as disruptive as he was during his rookie season and failed to record any interceptions. Mosley also struggled covering tight ends at times.
It would be benefit the Baltimore Ravens to pair Mosley with an inside linebacker who can take on blocks, freeing him up to shoot gaps against the run. Or the Ravens could go in another direction with Mosley's new inside linebacker mate and replace Daryl Smith with a linebacker that specializes in pass coverage. Using a platoon of two different players, one to stuff the run on obvious run downs and another to substitute in for passing situations may end up being the best option.
The in-house options to replace Smith include Zach Orr, Arthur Brown and Albert McClellan. Orr has primarily served as a core special teamer but did see some playing time on defense while substituting for Daryl Smith on passing downs towards the end of the 2015 season. Brown has never lived up to his 2nd round draft selection and has been in coach John Harbaugh's 'doghouse' for much of his career. But Brown has shown brief flashes of man coverage shadowing ability and blitzing prowess in his limited opportunities. McClellan is a versatile player who has logged reps at inside linebacker, outside linebacker, and is best known as a special teams ace. McClellan is a stout run plugger who is frequently used in heavy formations and has had some success blitzing off the edge.
The competition between these three players should be fierce in preseason. No matter who eventually wins the starting competition, the Ravens could certainly put increased depth and talent to good use at inside linebacker. Here are some players who could intrigue the Ravens in the middle or late rounds of the 2016 NFL draft:
REGGIE RAGLAND, 6'1" 247, Alabama Crimson Tide
Unanimous All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year is regarded as the best 3-4 inside linebacker in this draft class. Big, strong, tone setting thumper who has some versatility as an edge rusher. Questions about his play speed may make him available in the 2nd round.
DEION JONES, 6'1" 222, LSU Tigers
Team captain with blazing sideline to sideline speed. Undersized for a 3-4 inside linebacker, but has superb coverage skills and change of direction agility. Projects as a three down linebacker drafted between the 2nd and 4th round.
KENTRELL BROTHERS, 6'0" 245, Missouri Tigers
Slightly undersized prospect with excellent play recognition and vision. Disciplined, instinctive and has a strong punch, but has below average speed and tight hips. Athleticism could limit him to a backup role, should be available in the 4th round.
SCOOBY WRIGHT, 6'0" 239, Arizona Wildcats
Intense competitor is a former Bronco Nagurski award winner. Ferocious blitzer with elite instincts and lateral agility, but has below average straight line speed, average athleticism and an extensive injury history. Safe pick compares to Zach Thomas and will be drafted in the 2nd to 4th round range.
ANTONIO MORRISON, 6'1" 232, Florida Gators
Highly productive tackler with some character issues and injury concerns. Alpha dog personality with a strong work ethic, but is more quick than fast and is easily fooled by play-action. Explosive tackler is a two down backer who projects as a WILB, should be available in the 4th or 5th round.
JOSHUA PERRY, 6'4" 254, Ohio St. Buckeyes
All Big-10 performer who is regarded as having excellent leadership and character. Big, physical, strong wrap up tackler who can improve his pad level and man coverage skills. Lack of speed could limit him to a platoon role, projected to be drafted between the 3rd and 5th round.
TERRANCE SMITH, 6'3" 235, Florida St. Seminoles
Cousin of DeAndre Hopkins is a long, athletic linebacker. Shows good pursuit, range and burst, but needs to become a more consistent tackler by adding strength. Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type of player could be available in the 6th or 7th round.
CURT MAGGITT, 6'3" 237, Tennessee Volunteers
Passionate and intelligent prospect who missed most of 2015 with an injury. Above average skill set with pass rushing potential and quick twitch athleticism. Below average coverage ability should cause him to be drafted between the 5th or 7th round.