The retirement of Zach Orr truly is heartbreaking. The 24 year old is coming off an incredible year where he was voted a second-team All Pro. But the Ravens will now have to move on, and search for a replacement. The Ravens, however, will not be without options.
C.J. Mosley is the Ravens hard-hitting linebacker who is great against the run, while Orr did more work in coverage. It thus is laid out very clearly that the Ravens not only need a new inside linebacker, but one with solid coverage skills.
The easiest solution is to stay in house. The Ravens drafted Kamalei Correa in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and immediate tried to transition the college pass rusher into an NFL inside linebacker. Correa played decently in training camp, but Orr won the job. Injuries to Correa, in addition to how well Orr played this past season derailed any chance Correa had of seeing the field in his rookie year.
In addition to Correa, the Ravens could also shift Albert McClellan to inside linebacker. McClellan has experience at the position and has the most experience in the Ravens system.
Patrick Onwuasor also saw the field in spurts this season. Onwuasor played safety in college, and the Ravens tried to use him in the safety-linebacker hybrid role that has recently become popular. The team did the same thing with Anthony Levine Sr.
However, the more exciting option the Ravens could exercise is the draft. Due to some of the in house options, and other needs, the Ravens should wait until at least the third round to go for an ILB. Wide receiver and cornerback should be the first two positions the Ravens select in this year’s draft.
The single exception to this is Jabrill Peppers. When it came out, I really disliked Mel Kiper Jr’s first mock draft of the year and his decision to have the Ravens select Peppers. Now, with Orr retired, that selection makes more sense. Yes, Peppers is too small to be a true linebacker in the NFL, but the Ravens need someone with coverage skills across from C.J. Mosley, and Peppers provides that. No, Peppers is nothing spectacular in coverage, but relative to the Ravens other options, he has the best coverage skills. Peppers can play the linebacker-safety hybrid role, and is a much better option than Onwuasor and Levine.
In the third round, the Ravens could target Jarrad Davis from Florida or Raekwon McMillon of Ohio State. In later rounds, Baltimore could look at Anthony Walker from Northwestern who saw is draft stock fall due to a disappointing senior season. Finally, Jalen Reeves-Maybin of Tennessee saw a tumble in his draft stock due to injuries.
No matter who the Ravens select to put into the void left by Orr, they must have coverage skills. The Ravens have a multitude of options, it's just about finding the best one.