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The best defensive players the Ravens will face in 2017

NFL: New England Patriots at Houston Texans Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens will face many elite level defensive lineman and edge rushers next season. This could pose a serious problem for the team’s relatively inexperienced offensive line. Fortunately, they will avoid most of the top linebacker corps and secondaries in 2017.

Defensive Line - J.J. Watt, Ndamukong Suh, Geno Atkins

Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Watt will return from an injury marred 2016, while Suh and Atkins have nine All-Pro seasons between them. Other outstanding lineman the Ravens will square off against include Calais Campbell, Jurrell Casey, Linval Joseph and Everson Griffin.

Edge - Khalil Mack, Jadeveon Clowney

Mack and Clowney are a pair of fierce pass rushers who earned All-Pro recognition last season. Houston’s Whitney Mercilus, Detroit’s Ziggy Ansah, Oakland’s Bruce Irvin, Green Bay’s Nick Perry and Tennessee’s Brian Orakpo are other edge rushers of note on the upcoming slate.

Linebackers - Jerrell Freeman, Anthony Barr

The Bears Freeman and the Vikings Barr are the best of a relatively unimpressive group at linebacker. Benardrick McKinley, Ryan Shazier or Jamie Collins could easily overtake the starting tandem if they can play with more consistency.

Cornerbacks - Xavier Rhodes, Jalen Ramsey

Rhodes is one of the top cover corners in the league with certified ballhawk skills. Ramsey is poised to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl in his second season. Fellow Jaguar A.J. Bouye and Detroit’s Darius Slay are capable cornerbacks as well.

Safety - Harrison Smith, HaHa Clinton-Dix

Smith will be looking for his third straight Pro Bowl season while he locks down the deep middle for Minnesota. Clinton-Dix edged out fellow Packer Morgan Burnett for the starting spot after an All-Pro 2016. Reshad Jones of the Dolphins is another top safety the Ravens will meet in 2017.


Which defense will present the Ravens with their greatest challenge next season?

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