Another year, another influx of new talent in Baltimore. The Ravens addressed the defensive line in free agency, bringing in star defensive end Calais Campbell via a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, as well as signing Derek Wolfe from the Denver Broncos after a reported deal with Michael Brockers fell through. Veteran guard D.J. Fluker was added later in the wake of Marshal Yanda’s retirement and is expected to compete for the starting right guard position.
As for the draft, general manager Eric DeCosta revamped the inside linebacker room with Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison on the first two days. He also added some talent at the wide receiver position with Devin Duvernay and James Proche. DeCosta added one of the best running backs in the class in J.K. Dobbins in the second round, and one of the best interior defensive linemen in Justin Madubuike in the third. Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson were drafted to add some more competition and depth along the offensive line, while Broderick Washington was added to do the same on the defensive line. Safety Geno Stone has been labeled by many as a steal in the seventh round, and he should at least make an immediate impact on special teams as a rookie.
With so many new faces joining the Ravens, the staff of Baltimore Beatdown decided to share which newcomer they are most excited to see in 2020.
I’m most excited for Malik Harrison. I was a huge fan while he played at Ohio State, and his play style fits very well with what the Ravens are trying to do on defense. The dude is an absolute thumper of a linebacker and will complement the athleticism and coverage abilities of Patrick Queen. The linebacking duo of Harrison and Queen will be something to watch heading into the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if both rookie linebackers are starting alongside one another come Week 1.
Calais Campbell is my choice. Last season, pass rush from the Ravens defensive line was nearly nonexistent and the group as a whole did not make many impact plays against the run either. To remedy this issue, Eric DeCosta acquired Campbell, a perennial Pro Bowler and former Defensive Player of the Year. Calais was one of the most efficient pass rushers and highest graded defensive lineman against the run in 2019. He should rack up stats in Don Martindale’s scheme while elevating the effectiveness of the entire defensive front next season.
Terry McLaurin, Michael Gallup, Cooper Kupp, Kenny Golladay, and Chris Godwin were all third round picks in the past few seasons. I have a dream that Devin Duvernay can justifiably be put in the same sentence as them. Are the odds of that happening good? That’s a big stretch. . . but it’s the offseason, I can hope. Based on John Harbaugh’s reaction to Duvernay’s selection, which was pure boyish joy and excitement, he has the same hope. I can’t help but think about the impact a young play maker at slot could make alongside the other threats. This offense, as lethal as it was last year, has another gear to unlock when Lamar Jackson has a trusted option that he would want to throw to over forcing a ball to Hollywood Brown or Mark Andrews. Duvernay could be the guy that unlocks that gear.
I am very intrigued to see what James Proche brings to the table in Year 1. I was admittedly not too familiar with Proche prior to the Ravens drafting him but the fact that they were willing to trade up for him and depart with a future draft pick in the process speaks volumes. Proche was a catching machine at SMU but faces an uphill battle for offensive snaps. Can he separate himself as the clear cut No. 5 receiver ahead of Chris Moore and/or Jaleel Scott? Can he beat out De’Anthony Thomas as the lead return man on special teams? I’m excited to find out the answers to these questions and see what type of a role Proche can carve out for himself in 2020.
While he’s technically been a Raven for over two years, DeShon Elliott is a low key “addition” that I’m looking forward to. Elliott has had an unfortunate start to his NFL career following a broken forearm and torn ACL. He’s done nothing but flash when on the field. The problem is that he’s never on it. If Elliott can play a full slate in 2020, he will provide a spark plug on both special teams and in sub packages defensively. Whenever he’s on the field, he stands out. Cheers to hoping he can stay healthy in 2020 and crack some skulls.
The newest addition to the purple and black that I am most excited to watch this season is rookie linebacker and first-round pick Patrick Queen. While it’s tempting to go with Campbell when I imagine the havoc he will wreak up front, the bottom line is that I already know what Campbell is. Queen is a question mark. You never know how fast or even if a rookie’s college play will translate to the NFL, and with Queen only having one year of starting experience at LSU under his belt, his rookie season is a massive question mark. Will he have a knack for coverage or will he often get lost and lose track of players behind him? Will his speed instantly flash on the field? Will he be able to stay disciplined, read his keys, shed blocks, and take proper angles to the ball? Will he be a three-down player, or will he have to grow into that role? Queen could take this defense to another level if he is able to do these things early on.
Which player are you most excited to watch this season?
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