Arguably the most important measure of a draft’s success is how many starters a team drafts. In 2017, the Ravens were looking for players that could help make their defense dominant now rather than later. They also took players who would help to sure up an offensive line with two spots up for grabs. Of all of the talent the Ravens brought in, who is the most likely to start?
The Ravens drafted cornerback Marlon Humphrey in the first round. Normally, a team would expect its first round pick to be an immediate starter, but Humphrey will have to compete against veteran corner Brandon Carr. It’s very possible that Humphrey could start over Carr at some point in 2017, but I’m not sure the Ravens will throw Humphrey into the fire immediately if they don’t have to. Despite being a first round pick, Humphrey’s path to a starting spot is not wide open.
The Ravens filled a big need in drafting Tyus Bowser in the second round. Bowser was added to a stable of young pass rushers, but with so many pass rushers on the roster, Bowser doesn’t have a clear path either. The Houston product will have to compete against Matt Judon, Za’darius Smith, and Albert McClellan among others if he intends to win a starting job across from Terrell Suggs. That competition will not be easy, thus making Bowser not a lock to start either.
The likeliest rookie starter for the Ravens was drafted in the third round, and his path to a starting job doesn’t seem too complicated at all.
That player would be Chris Wormley, the Ravens first of two third round picks. Wormley is a defensive end out of Michigan, and while he isn’t the most talented player that the Ravens drafted, his path to a starting spot in 2017 looks to be the clearest.
The start two defensive ends in their scheme, and in 2016 those two starters were Timmy Jernigan and Lawrence Guy. Neither Jernigan or Guy are still in Baltimore. Thus, there are two open spots open in the defensive front. Wormley will be a favorite to win one of them.
Wormley won’t have much competition to get the spot, as Bronson Kaufusi and Brent Urban look to be the biggest threats to Wormley. Both Kaufusi and Urban have struggled with major injuries over the course of their careers, and neither show the type of edge bending ability that Wormley possesses.
While his senior year production dropped off from his junior year, Wormley was able to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. For example, Wormley only had one sack in Michigan’s game against Ohio State in 2016, but Wormley put pressure on J.T. Barrett all throughout the game.
In this game film, Wormley shows that he is a five technique defensive end first and foremost, but on pass rushing downs he can be shifted inside. While Michigan would go on to lose that game, Wormley proved that he can succeed against a team stockpiled with NFL talent.
The biggest issue, as can be seen in the video, Wormley has some instances were he isn’t able to detach from the offensive lineman. This is a skill that can be taught, and the Ravens will help him improve that aspect of his game.
In addition, a 3-4 defensive end must be stout against the run. Wormley doesn’t put up high tackle numbers, but he does a good job of playing contain.
DL Chris Wormley (Michigan, 6'5", 297lbs) does excellent job sealing edge, forces everything inside; rarely allows carrier to get outside. pic.twitter.com/UVkBSzdvab— Jeremy Stevenson (@MyColtsAccount) January 26, 2017
Michigan also used Wormley a lot on special teams as an anchor for the field goal block unit, a role he was successful in as well.
Whitmer's Chris Wormley with the blocked Field Goal. pic.twitter.com/DPtThA9cxC— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) September 10, 2016
Chris Wormley did it again.... pic.twitter.com/FEzLHP39cz— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) September 10, 2016
Over the last two drafts, the Ravens have shown a commitment to the defensive front, and getting after the quarterback. Wormley, more than the other defensive ends on the roster, can do that. With a spot up for grabs at the five technique defensive end, Wormley seems poised to earn a chance to make an early impact in his NFL career.