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Ravens training camp positional preview: Defensive line

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens are a team that is known for producing quality players at the front of their defense, and while they are a group in some transition, it appears to again be a promising unit.

It all starts with nose tackle Brandon Williams, who was inked to a mega contract to remain in Baltimore earlier this offseason. The run stuffer is among the absolute best in the league at his position, but his 4.5 career sacks don’t necessarily bear that out. Look for him to have a more tangible pass rushing presence in 2017.

After him is Michael Pierce, a somewhat similar player who impressed as an undrafted rookie in 2017. Keep an eye on how defensive coordinator Dean Pees uses him in his second year of development.

On the outside, the Ravens lost the quietly productive Lawrence Guy to free agency, so they’ll turn to some young talent to pick up the mantle where he left off. That may start with Brent Urban and Bronson Kaufusi, two players who have had their fair share of injury issues.

Urban made his debut in 2015 and has been steady since, but the coaching staff should be excited about Kaufusi. A 2016 third round pick out of BYU, Kaufusi has yet to play for the Ravens after breaking his ankle before his rookie year. It’s tough to tell what they may get from him, but he can essentially be counted among this year’s rookie class, making the group that much more tantalizing.

A few other names to keep an eye on are Willie Henry and Chris Wormley. Henry was a fourth round pick last season while Wormley went in the third round of the most recent draft. They both played for John Harbaugh’s brother Jim at Michigan, so if any team would have inside information on their strengths and weaknesses, it would be Baltimore. Hopefully that information is good and these players pan out for a defense that could use some youth up front.

Defensive tackle Carl Davis will also be battling for a roster spot after spending last season on injured reserve with an ankle injury. And undrafted rookie lineman Patrick Ricard is also an intriguing prospect.

While there are clearly questions surrounding this unit, there is also serious promise that some of the aforementioned youth will be asked to deliver upon. If they do, the Ravens could very well be dominant up front in 2017.