Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic recently released rankings for every NFL defense heading into the NFL season, from best to worst.
Coming in at the number one spot on the list is the Ravens, ahead of the top three defenses of the 2019 season, the Patriots, 49ers, and Steelers.
“Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s blitz-heavy scheme worked wonders last year. The Ravens had the second-worst injury luck of any defense but were still a top-five unit. Martindale sent five rushers or more on a league-high 55.9 percent of opponents’ dropbacks. He flooded the field with defensive backs — the Ravens were in nickel or dime 85 percent of the time — and called for a heavy dose of man coverage. Up front, the Ravens kept Matthew Judon on the franchise tag, traded for Calais Campbell and signed Derek Wolfe. They used the No. 28 overall pick on athletic linebacker Patrick Queen. Slot corner Tavon Young (missed all of last season with a neck injury) will join outside starters Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. And the Ravens have a strong safety pairing in Chuck Clark and Earl Thomas, although Thomas turned 31 this offseason. Baltimore has built its offense through the draft and its defense through trades and free agency. This is a veteran group that is strong on the back end.”
Baltimore’s defense finished the 2019 season ranked fourth in total yards, third in points allowed, sixth in passing yards, and fifth in rushing yards allowed. The Ravens will return most of their key starters on defense, minus defensive tackle Michael Pierce, while adding defensive lineman Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe in free agency. Baltimore also landed two of the draft’s top inside linebackers in LSU’s Patrick Queen in the first round and Ohio State’s Malik Harrison in the third round. Veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith also returns, adding even more depth to a star-studded CB room.
The Ravens have a legitimate chance to field a top-five unit on both sides of the ball for the second year in a row.