The learning curve was steep for Matthew Judon, a fifth round draft choice from Division II Grand Valley State. His progress as a rookie in last year allowed Baltimore to release veteran edge rusher Elvis Dumervil. Now in his second season, Judon has become the obvious starter at the strong side outside linebacker position.
While the Ravens as a team have struggled with week-to-week consistency this season, Judon has posted strong games in consecutive weeks. In Week 5 at Oakland, Judon made three total tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage. He also added a pass deflected and displayed impressive man-to-man pass coverage ability for a 265 pound athlete. Then against the Bears in Week 6, Judon was the best Raven on the field. His final stat line included a dozen solo tackles, two quarterback sacks, four tackles for a loss and a pair of quarterback hits.
Through the first five weeks, Matt played 227 defensive snaps or 67-percent of all defensive snaps, second only to stalwart Terrell Suggs in the crowded outside linebacker rotation that includes Za’Darius Smith, Timmy Williams and Tyus Bowser. He added another 70 plays to his resume in Week 6, outsnapping Suggs by 13. Clearly, Judon has earned the trust of the coaching staff in both run and passing situations.
In a season where many of the Ravens players are trending in the wrong direction, Judon along with his 2016 draft class mates Ronnie Stanley, Willie Henry and Michael Pierce have been bonafide bright spots. With edge defenders among the most valuable positions in the game, and Matt under contract through the 2019 season, Judon is developing into a foundational player for the Ravens.