Arguably the biggest intrigue of training camp is the position battles that take place. For the Ravens, there are many positions where the starter is either uncertain, or the order on the depth chart needs to be worked out. But of the many battles set to take place, which will be the biggest? It may not be the most hyped battle for the time being, but the battle at the defensive end position is sure to be the biggest.
The Ravens have two open spots at defensive end, one vacated by Timmy Jernigan, and the other by Lawrence Guy. Michael Pierce will almost assuredly take Jernigan’s place as a three technique defensive end, but Guy’s five technique spot is very much up for grabs.
This battle will be the biggest, not only because multiple players are competing for the starting job, but also because of how important the position is. Lawrence Guy was never the most heralded player on the Ravens, but his reliable play along the defensive line was crucial to the performace of the defense, especially against the run. Now, the Ravens must find someone to replace him.
There are three players that look to be the top contenders to win the job: Bronson Kaufusi, Brent Urban, and rookie Chris Wormley.
Both Urban and Kaufusi have struggled with injuries over their careers, and neither have gotten a large enough amount of snaps to prove to be a reliable option as a result.
Urban’s best moment as a Raven came as he blocked a Cleveland Browns field goal on Monday Night Football in his NFL debut, a kick that would be returned by Will Hill for a touchdown, and a walk-off win for the Ravens.
Kaufusi has not yet seen the field as a pro, as he missed all of 2016 with an injury. In college, Kaufusi was a very good pass rusher, but wasn’t as effective against the run.
I did a deep analysts of Wormley’s game when I published a film study on the Michigan product, and you can check that out here. In my film study, I saw a reliable tackler, who’s best pass rushing ability was his power. I also saw a player who could help the Ravens on special teams, as Wormley had three blocks in 2016.
All three defensive ends bring different abilities: Urban brings length, Kaufusi can get to the passer, and Wormley is a great tackler. The Ravens coaching staff will be tasked with deciding which of these three players with different abilities is the one they want as the starter.
Prediction: I’ve been riding the Chris Wormley hype train for a while now, and I’m going to stay on it. Of the three contenders for the starting spot, Wormley is the best all-around defensive end. As I wrote about in the film study, Wormley has excellent tackling, and he can be a good pass rusher when he wins with his power. The issue for Wormley is that he doesn’t have many pass rushing moves. These, however, are things that can be taught. Wormley brings intangibles to the table like instincts, power, and special teams ability, that, put together, make him the best all-around player at his position on the roster. I think his all-around ability, and limited injury history, will be the factors that lead to Chris Wormley being named the starting defensive end for the Ravens in 2017.