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Ravens 2019 Draft Likes & Dislikes: Jaylon Ferguson

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Can the pass rusher be what Baltimore needs?

NCAA Football: Hawaii Bowl-Louisiana Tech vs Hawaii Steven Erler-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL Draft was a grueling adventure for Ravens fans. After the initial pick at 25, the front office sat back and calculated their next move. . . which arrived 60 picks later. Fans were excited and exhausted. In the end, we watched as Eric DeCosta and the scouting unit attempted to replace a 16-year Raven, OLB Terrell Suggs, as he ventured off to the NFC West, becoming an Arizona Cardinal. With their second overall selection, the Baltimore Ravens picked DE Jaylon Ferguson.

Rd. 3 Pick 85: DE Jaylon Ferguson

Likes: The stats, obviously. The man who was drafted to ‘replace’ the legendary Raven was the same man to overtake Suggs’ Division I sack record.

A player capable of notching 45 sacks in college is exciting, especially when the sack record was on the line in his final matchup and he stepped up to achieve such a feat.

The sack totals aren’t the only gaudy number, either. He also racked in a total of 67.5 tackles for loss in his four-year career at Louisiana Tech [sports-reference]. In summation, Ferguson was a college dominator.

Now, to discuss his play. I like his versatility. I don’t see Jaylon as a strict defensive end/edge rusher. Against North Texas (yes, I know this isn’t ‘Bama, but still), you can see him producing while playing inside backer blitzing right up the middle. He blows past and takes down the quarterback with ease. On the next clip, he cuts to the chipping tight end, takes the block and uses the momentum from the block to burn past the left tackle and notch yet another sack. Going frame-by-frame, you also notice he’s the first off the line after the snap, demonstrating the speed he’s revered for.

My final ‘like’ for Ferguson actually comes from a recent interview on our own “Baltimore Beatdown Podcast”. Jacob Louque and Vasilis Lericos interviewed Bleacher Report’s Connor Roger’s and his response settled most of my up-in-the-air uncertainties on Ferguson.

Vasilis Lericos: “We know the Ravens lost a lot of snaps from their linebacking corps. C.J. Mosley joined your Jets and local icon Terrell Suggs moved on, as well as Za’Darius Smith. They did address the pass rusher need in the third round with Jaylon Ferguson. He did produce gaudy stats in college, but faced some middling talent. He did not test particularly well. How pro-ready do you think Ferguson is?”

Connor Rogers: “I actually do think he is ready to be on the field. Now, I’m not saying he’s going to be this three-down lights-out player right away but one thing I like about Jaylon Ferguson’s game is is that you kind of know what it is. It’s speed-to-power, in my eyes. You kind of alluded to it there, it wasn’t always against the best competition but I still think he can rush and get after the quarterback. He plays with a different level of violence.”

Dislikes: You can’t disregard the level of competition Ferguson faced in college. Yes, he was Division I, but he wasn’t going against the top-flight lineman in college. He wasn’t battling against the best of the best, and now he will face off against professionals week in and week out. This is a big step up and it will be a tough test for the rookie.

Ferguson is a solid defender and I don’t have much against him. It all comes down to becoming the NFL-caliber performer, which we’ll have to wait and see.