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Ravens Tyus Bowser, Matt Judon provide athleticism at SAM position

The Ravens have not been as athletic at SAM since Adalius Thomas' heyday

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Adalius Thomas and Jarret Johnson have been the standard for the Ravens at the SAM linebacker position. Since Johnson's decline and eventual departure, the Ravens have lagged behind with Courtney Upshaw and Albert McClellan being sluggish, one dimensional edge setters.

Tyus Bowser and Matt Judon signal the return of the athletic SAM, which will allow the Ravens to be creative on early downs and versatile enough to match spread formations with their base personnel.

Bowser's overall atheltism and supreme change of direction skills - as proven by his testing in SPARQ's 95 percentile and his 6.75 3-cone time (for comparison, Marlon Humphrey's time was the exact same) - could make him a coverage ace against tight ends and backs. Add Bowser to already proven tight end destroyer Tony Jefferson and the Ravens have pieces to combat the Rob Gronkowskis and Tyler Eiferts of the NFL.

Judon is slanted torwards the traditional defensive end or outside linebacker role but his weight loss of 20 pound this offseason has reportedly made him more nimble. While Judon's movement skills are nowhere near Bowser's, his ability to rush the passer and win in the run game with strength will give the Ravens a legitimate pass-rushing options opposite Terrell Suggs on traditional run downs.

SAM linebacker has long been a spot that has been a weakness of the Ravens, especially against spread formations on early downs. The lack of explosiveness at the position has given opponents a clear weakness to attack. During the past season, the lack of pass rush deserted the secondary in key moments, notably against the Oakland Raiders in Week 5 and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Christmas day. With the added athleticism, the Ravens now feature plus versatility to combat spread formations.