After what seemed to be an extremely successful free agency period where the front office focused on bolstering the team’s defensive line, that area on the roster is once again a weakness after concerns arose regarding Michael Brokers’ high ankle sprain he sustained late last year. The Ravens failed to re-negotiate and come to new terms with Brockers, which led to his return to Los Angeles. Additionally, in anticipation of the Brockers deal coming to fruition, the Ravens traded away former starter Chris Wormley to the Steelers. Essentially, two starters in Brockers and Wormley departed, which leaves a significant hole to the right of Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell.
At this latter stage of free agency, it is unknown what the Ravens will do to address the void at right defensive end. Players like Derek Wolfe or Shelby Harris would be fine additions, but at this point, the Ravens may rely on the draft and their plethora of early round capital to address certain positions. The defensive line draft class boasts multiple first round caliber players with the likes of Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw being the consensus top two prospects. At the same time, if available at pick #28, Ross Blacklock would be a very wise addition. Blacklock possesses great athleticism and gap penetration. He was a menacing presence for the TCU defense during his two active years and has a knack for getting to the quarterback through both effort and skill.
Barring any potential free agent singings, drafting a player like Blacklock would allow him to compete for a starting job immediately.
DE Ross Blacklock, TCU
2019 stats: 25 solo tackles, 15 assisted, 9 TFL, 3.5 sacks
Blacklock was a very productive run-stuffer and disruptive pass-rusher who consistently pressured the quarterback. Blacklock’s quickness and gap shooting abilities are very desirable traits for defensive linemen. However, a number of concerns regarding Blacklock’s health as well as skillset may result in some reluctance among GMs to draft Blacklock.
- Uncanny quickness and athleticism
- Moves very well in short areas
- Quick off of the snap
- Has a very good motor and is adept at finishing plays
- Blacklock isn't one to give up on a play; he always looks to find ways to contribute
- Willingly took on double-teams and showed varying levels of success
- Is very difficult to deal with one-on-one; he won many of those battles throughout the 2019 season
- Shoots gaps like a missile; offensive linemen are often slow to preventing Blacklock’s pocket penetration
- His powerful initial punch allows him to shed blocks and clog up running lanes
- Powerful legs allow him to gain leverage when taking on offensive linemen
- Has great lateral quickness and change of direction ability
- Has very quick hands
- Has a nice array of pass-rush moves
- Suffered a torn achilles that forced him to miss the entire 2018 season
- Was ejected for targeting against West Virginia this past season
- Showed some inconsistency when covering two gaps
- Needs to take better angles to the runner, which correlates with his need to avoid getting caught up in the offensive blocking scheme
- Had some trouble against more powerful interior linemen
- Had trouble translating his consistent pressures into sacks
Floor Comparison: Timmy Jernigan
Ceiling Comparison: Gerald McCoy
How Blacklock fits on the Ravens:
Ross Blacklock would provide an immediate boost to the Ravens defensive line. Blacklock would be given the opportunity to start right away in what has become a thin front seven. His pass-rushing abilities would pair very well with that of Calais Campbell’s in addition to the run-stuffing prowess of Brandon Williams.
Wink Martindale can use Blacklock in a variety of ways too. Whether it be in early down packages or other sub-packages, Blacklock’s motor and athleticism would be put to good use in Wink Martindale’s defense.