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The Baltimore Ravens need at inside linebacker is overstated

Some are disappointed by the lack of an addition at inside linebacker. The Ravens track record at the position should mitigate that...

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The Baltimore Ravens were able to address many of the big holes on their roster in the draft, but there are still one or 2 positions on the roster which do not instill confidence for many fans. With the departure of Daryl Smith, and the team skipping over the position in the draft, one writer recently wrote about the Ravens need to fill the void at inside linebacker. While there is room for an upgrade, evidenced by the Ravens scouting of 1st round talents like Myles Jack and Reggie Ragland, this writer feels the need at inside linebacker is overstated.

Part of my hesitation with basically every inside linebacker prospect in the draft outside of Jack and the injured Jaylon Smith was a lack of definite starter ability in any prospect. I did not see a inside linebacker who looks like their ceiling is more than slightly higher than that of the incumbent, Zachary Orr. The grass may be greener on the other side, but the Ravens have a rich history of picking up undrafted free agents at the position and developing them- Bart Scott was the best of the bunch, but Dannell Ellerbe, Jameel McClain, and now Orr and Albert McClellan have all been important contributors and started games for the Ravens over the past decade. Orr will be given a chance to show whether he will be the next Bart Scott and be a Pro Bowl caliber player, or at least a solid starter. If not, he will just be filling the spot until the Ravens find a better option. Scott wasn't a starter until a few games into his 4th season, McClain until his third season, and Ellerbe wasn't really a starter until halfway through his 4th season, and that was because of an injury to Ray Lewis. So I don't think we can accurately judge Orr just yet.

The other reason Ravens fans should not despair is Arthur Brown. Most of us have already written him off, and the odds are likely at this point that Brown will never amount to anything, especially in Baltimore. But the Ravens have a history of players like Brown taking several years to really come into their own, even second rounders. While this may be a bad thing for a team needing a contribution from their high picks more quickly, that doesn't mean he is done. Players like Paul Kruger and Dwan Edwards both took until the last year of their rookie contracts to put it all together, and Kruger barely played before his 4th year, but was a key contributor in the Ravens magical 2012 Super Bowl run. Jarrett Johnson, a 4th rounder, became a starter in his 5th year, although he did pick up 14 starts in his 2nd through 4th seasons and had Adalius Thomas ahead of him in his 3rd and 4th seasons.

The bottom line is, while it wouldn't hurt to bring in more talent at the position, I think people are overlooking what we have and overstating the void. It would not hurt to bring in a veteran on a minimum deal to see if they can push our current players, and possibly become the next Daryl Smith for us, although there is not much out there. But Orr, and Brown if he can see the field should be given every opportunity to make their mark for the Ravens. We don't need to rush out there and grab a has been with a big name (Demeco Ryans anyone?) just because we have unknown players at the position. The coaches have a track record of success here, so let us hope Orr or Brown can continue that success.