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Will the Baltimore Ravens add a inside linebacker?

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

With the draft in the books, most of the roster holes have been addressed for the Baltimore Ravens. The team added 2 offensive lineman, 2 defensive lineman, 2 outside linebackers, 2 cornerbacks, a running back, and 2 wide receivers one of whom has return ability. The big question mark which was not addressed was at inside linebacker, where the Ravens released veteran Daryl Smith and resigned young special teams ace Zachary Orr.

With no additions in the draft, the Ravens are currently slotting Orr to start next to 2014 pro bowler C.J. Mosley. While Mosley slipped somewhat in 2015, the defense around him was like swiss cheese, so it is hard to blame him. Mosley is a strong run defender, but his pass defense still is not a finished product. In his rookie season, veteran Daryl Smith was strong in that area, but as 2015 progressed Smith clearly was slipping and Orr started eating away at his playing time. Smith became a cap casualty in the offseason, and Orr was resigned by the Ravens. Orr is a top special teams player, but the expectation is that the undrafted player will be given a chance to win the role.

Behind Orr are 2 very different players. Albert McClellan is a veteran who has been with the Ravens for several years now, and filled in admirably at times with starts at ILB and OLB over the past 5 seasons, appearing in 74 games with 12 starts. He can provide solid depth, but is not the answer next to Mosley. The other side of the coin is 2013 second rounder Arthur Brown, who was considered a steal by the Ravens in that draft. He showed a few flashes in his rookie year, but since then has been mysteriously relegated to the bench and inactive list for 2 seasons now. It is not clear whether the coaching staff feels he is not ready to contribute, or what the issue is, but with him nearing the end of his rookie contract it is baffling that he has not been given a chance to make it on the field, especially with his high draft pedigree. Ravens fans would love to see Brown get his chance instead of being another wasted high pick, and he hasn't been let go which must mean something. Hopefully this is the year for Brown.

The Ravens could also hit the free agent market, as they have plenty of cap space and there are some veteran in their primes with starting experience. If Brown does not look like a contributor in training camp, the team could choose to keep one of these veterans on the roster over Brown as insurance in case Orr is not up to the task. Some of the names currently available are Curtis Lofton (31), Donald Butler (27), David Hawthorne (30), Demeco Ryans (31), and Justin Durant (30).

Butler would seem to be the best of the bunch, and the youngest. He started 9 games last season for the Chargers, and appeared in all 16 games, but posted the lowest totals of his career. Butler lost his job to rookie Denzel Perryman late in the year, and the team decided to release him following the season. Butler was in the 2nd year of a big deal he signed with the Chargers, but looked invisible at times. He has great physical abilities, but seems to struggle with motivation. The Ravens have a veteran group at linebacker, with a good position coach, and he could reunite with teammate Eric Weddle.

The Ravens have options at the position, and hopefully they at least bring in some veteran competition at the position. The player they bring in could be the next Daryl Smith, and if not, the team has nothing to lose.