After losing C.J. Mosley to free agency a year ago and Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor this offseason, Baltimore needed to rebuild it’s inside linebacker corps from the ground up. This is where Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison come in.
Queen was projected by many to be selected ahead of Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray in the first round. Murray was selected with the 23rd pick by the Los Angeles Chargers and even Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks was selected before Queen by the Seattle Seahawks just one pick before Baltimore’s. Harrison was widely viewed as a second-round prospect as well and the Ravens selected him with one of the last picks of the third round.
The rookie duo gives Baltimore a little bit of everything at the inside linebacker position.
Queen is a new-age linebacker with his sideline-to-sideline speed and ability to drop into zone coverage with similar fluidity to that of a safety. Harrison on the other hand is a more traditional linebacker. At 247 pounds, Harrison is a thumper in the run game. He displays the ability to handle the dirty work against blockers, often making the play on the ball carrier himself or redirecting him after blowing up a block.
Let’s take a look at some examples of what both players do best and how they perfectly complement each other as running mates.
The above clip against Wisconsin shows Harrison’s strength as he stops #65 dead in his tracks, snapping his head back from the force of the hit. This leaves the running back nowhere to go inside as #65 is pushed backwards, leading to another player making the tackle. This type of play won’t show up on the stat sheet and might not even be noticed on the broadcast angle, but good linebacker play can often go unnoticed.
Below is another example of Harrison completely stonewalling an offensive lineman, this time the pulling center #61. Harrison sees the pulling lineman and crashes down to fill the gap, pushing the center back into the path of the running back, derailing the play design and leading to another player making the tackle again.
This next clip shows Harrison quickly closing the hole on the running back by simply overpowering the left guard #68 and walking him back into the A-gap where the running back is.
What Harrison lacks in athleticism and speed, he makes up for with intelligence, discipline, and physicality. While he isn’t necessarily poor in coverage, his stiffness limits his ability to effectively cover ground in zone coverage like a modern inside linebacker needs to in the NFL.
Harrison’s best work is the dirty work. But where there is thunder, there is lightning - and that is where Queen comes in. Harrison will allow the speedy 230-pound Queen to roam more freely and make impact plays.
This first clip against Alabama shows off the sideline-to-sideline speed that Queen possesses. Queen is able to limit the amount of damage the speedy future first-round WR Jaylen Waddle can do once he reaches the edge. That type of speed to the sideline is perfect for today’s game where offenses are more creative and explosive than ever.
Above was one of the biggest plays in LSU’s 46-41 victory over the Crimson Tide in 2019. Queen initially covers the underneath drag route before reading quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and dropping back to make the interception. A crucial play in the outcome of the game. Queen’s fluidity and natural feel for dropping into coverage is on full display here.
The two linebackers should feed off of each other and quickly make an impact behind the behemoth of a defensive line that the Ravens have built up front with Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, and Derek Wolfe. Queen and Harrison will go together like peanut butter and jelly for years to come in Baltimore.