In this series, I will be taking a look at each of the Ravens 2019 draft picks and what fans should reasonably expect from each player in their second season.
Baltimore selected edge rusher Jaylon Ferguson out of Louisiana Tech with the 85th pick in the 2019 draft. Ferguson finished his collegiate career with 45 sacks, breaking the NCAA record for career sacks which was previously held by former Ravens legend Terrell Suggs. Ferguson was an extremely raw prospect coming out of college who needed to develop more pass rushing moves outside of his bull rush as well as improve against the run. A year later, and although progress has certainly been made, that is still pretty much the case for Ferguson entering his second season in the NFL.
As of right now before the NFL Draft, Ferguson would likely start at outside linebacker opposite of Matthew Judon. Ferguson needs to improve the most against the run, where he particulary had some trouble holding the edge at times as a rookie. As a rookie, Ferguson played 50% of the snaps on defense. Expect that percentage to rise significantly if Ferguson improves against the run.
Ferguson finished his rookie season with 2.5 sacks, 31 tackles, six for loss, nine QB hits, and a fumble recovery. With an offseason to continue shaping his body for the NFL, watching film, and working on his craft, Ferguson should see an uptick in sacks, especially when you factor in the additions of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe on the defense line to draw some attention away and help alleviate pressure on the outside linebackers.
Ferguson displayed a powerful bull rush as a rookie, but he will need to add more pass-rushing moves to his repertoire if he is to ever become a consistent 8-10 sack player. Adding speed to his power would go a long way, as would learning how to better use his hands when engaged with an offensive lineman.
A big leap from Ferguson in 2020 would solve part of the future of Baltimore’s outside linebacker position. Ferguson should be a solid contributor once again in 2020 at the very least. With what should be a much larger role on defense, I predict Ferguson will double his sack total from last season and finish with at least six in his sophomore year.
How do you think Ferguson will perform in his second season? Share in the comments!