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Why the Baltimore Ravens drafted Patrick Queen

Intelligence, speed and leadership

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens added LSU linebacker Patrick Queen after choosing to sit tight while they watched the Los Angeles Chargers and Green Bay Packers leapfrog them via trade.

The Chargers and Seahawks both add linebackers Jordyn Brooks and Kenneth Murray. Fine players in their own right, but Queen was the consensus ILB 1 on many draft boards, such as Daniel Jeremiah’s and Mel Kiper’s.

Before we break down Queen’s game, let’s pay homage to the ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., who linked Queen to the Ravens in all five of his mock drafts. Give credit where it’s due.

Erik Turner of Cover 1 did an in depth breakdown with Queen and went over some of his tape this past season.

Pro Football Focus’ draft guru Mike Renner has a perfect player comparison (in my eyes) for Patrick Queen. Jacksonville Jaguars Telvin Smith, who was one of the top inside linebackers in football before taking a leave of absence for personal reasons. Both are lean, fast, explosive and savvy in coverage, with pedigree running back backgrounds.

They fit the mold of “modern” linebacker. PFF, among many other major outlets, rated Queen as the top pure inside linebacker in the class.

The Baltimore Ravens added the smartest linebacker (really the two smartest linebackers, but we will get to Malik Harrison later) in the 2020 draft class.

Queen does a great job staying square to the play, moving laterally, then shooting the gap and ending plays. He’s a mental menace for opposing offenses, who, despite being only 20 years-old, regularly called out the offenses play, communicated it to his teammates, then changed their alignments.

Queen has flashed awesome block-shedding ability, who overcompensates for his slight frame with aggression and violent play against blockers. Occasionally Queen fails to use his hands, choosing to throw a shoulder, which is a hit or miss proposition against blockers or ball carriers. An easy fix.

Above you can see the reckless abandon he plays with, ensuring no one ever thinks he plays small.

There are few college linebackers over the past few years that have so consistently recognized a play and beat blockers to their spot.

Despite Queen being the first LSU Tiger ever drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, LSU actually ran a relatively similar defense to many of the concepts the Ravens run. In fact, former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees spoke several times about his admiration for former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranada’s “creeper blitzes.”

The creeper blitz is a way to “simulate pressure”, which can deceive pass blockers on one side of the offensive line with possible pass rushers, while dropping seven into coverage and having potential pass rushers drop into coverage.

This causes quarterbacks to see blitz, then want to throw away from it, but there’s an edge rusher or linebacker there. Mass confusion, sacks and interceptions galore.

Queen essentially mastered the duties of bluffing, blitzing, dropping into shallow hooks, which is a perfect fit for the Ravens blitz heavy scheme. The Louisiana native has awesome change of direction ability as a pass rusher, registering 18 pressures and three sacks throughout his 2019 season.

Queen is the four down linebacker that the Ravens have desperately wanted, particularly against the pass and on third down. He has nothing but upside in coverage and considering his mental acumen on the field, will surely improve.

Queen does a great job mirroring running backs against the run. A former All-Louisiana running back himself, Queen uses a wicked shuffle technique to stay square toward the line of scrimmage, move laterally, then find and fill the hole with GPS-like precision.

Queen’s lateral speed and agility are incredible, so much so that LSU occasionally gave Queen responsibility for two gaps at once.

The young linebacker also will immediately improve the Ravens ability to defend screens, where he rarely didn’t blow up screen concepts.

All of Queen’s upside is exciting. He will add speed and range to the Ravens front seven, where the Ravens have struggled to defend outside zone concepts and screens at times.

Early on, expect Queen to make flashy plays with his ability to run sideline to sideline and mirror ball carriers. He will become a staple of the Ravens third down blitz efforts, and should be kept relatively clean by the likes of Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Derek Wolfe and Matt Judon.

Queen could face occasional struggles if he fails to engage his hands against blockers working into the second level, as the few times his opponents did so, they were able to drive him out of the play. Those bumps in the road will be minor, while Queen has All-Pro potential by the end of his rookie contact.

Queen will take over 70% of snaps as a rookie, pairing with draft-mate Malik Harrison to give the Ravens what they expected out of C.J. Mosley and Zach Orr before things went awry. Linebackers are back, baby!

Rookie prediction: Queen plays WILL on early downs, chasing from the backside. On passing downs and in dime looks, Queen plays MIKE.

Queen, who turns 21-years old in July, will have growing pains against NFL linemen and solo tackling powerful backs and tight ends early on, but will make at least six plays on the ball (interceptions and passes defended) en route to taking over play calling duties in 2021.

Queen continues his mastery blowing up screens and shutting down receiving running backs, becoming the pass defending linebacker the Ravens haven’t had since Zach Orr.