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Here’s a guy: Inside Linebackers

The Ravens possess some promising young guns and a seasoned vet spearheading the group.

Baltimore Ravens Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The phrase “Here’s a guy” made famous by NBC sports broadcaster Chris Collinsworth inspired me to write a series of articles where I detail what every Baltimore Ravens’ player that is expected or is in the hunt to be on the roster brings to the table from a skillset standpoint, and their 2021 individual outlook.

The seventh edition highlights the position group that roams the second level of the defense with responsibility to make plays at, behind and beyond the line of scrimmage:

Patrick Queen

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a guy who flies to the ball like a heat-seeking missile and has a penchant for making splash plays. The 2020 first-round pick had an up and down rookie year according to many metrics but considering the lack of an offseason program and preseason, he was still able to display his play-making ability.

He led the team and finished third among all rookies with 106 total tackles including nine for a loss, recorded three sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 10 quarterback hits, an interception, two pass deflections, and a touchdown.

In 2021, Queen is poised for a breakout season where he is expected to take a major leap in year two now that he’s had an actual offseason under his belt. He has the potential to make a similar jump in the second season with the Ravens that his former LSU teammate Devin White did with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year.

L.J. Fort

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Here’s a guy that was a journeyman before coming to Baltimore but appears to have found a nice niche in the Ravens’ defense since arriving during the early portion of the 2019 season. At 31-years-old he’s the most seasoned member and the veteran leader of the very young position group.

Even though he was a part-time starter last year and rotated at weakside linebacker with the next player on the list, Fort was the most complete player at the position that the Ravens had on the roster. He defended the run well and was always in the right place in coverage even if he did let up the occasional reception to more athletic skill position players.

In 2021, Fort will likely open the season and begin most games as the starting WILL linebacker next to Queen but continue to split the duties. He’s a strong presence on special teams who will be one of the players leading the charge in the third phase of the game.

Malik Harrison

NFL: JAN 03 Ravens at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here’s a guy who received limited playing time as a rookie in a rotational role but has the potential to develop into a difference-maker. He looks like a classic MIKE linebacker, plays downhill in the run game, and showed an ability to make plays in the passing game.

The 2020 third-round pick appeared in 18 games last season and made seven starts including the playoffs. He recorded 48 total tackles including one for a loss and a pass deflection.

In 2021, Harrison will still likely be in a two-man rotation with Fort at WILL but could push for more playing time if he plays well on a consistent basis. He played about the same number of snaps on special teams as he did on defense last season, with a slight edge going to the third phase of the game. Expect to see more of the same in year two but his defensive snaps might pull ahead of special teams where he will likely be on both coverage units.

Chris Board

NFL: NOV 08 Ravens at Colts Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here’s a guy who is a special teams ace with the ability to contribute and make plays on defense. The 2018 undrafted free agent is coming off his best season to date in 2020 where he appeared in 18 games and made two starts. He recorded career highs in total tackles (31 including two for a loss), along with five quarterback hits, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass deflection.

In 2021, Board will likely be the fourth and final inside linebacker that the Ravens carry into the regular season. Expect him to continue to be a strong presence on special teams and take an even larger role in the often-overlooked third phase of the game if Anthony Levine doesn’t make team.

Kristian Welch

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a guy who was a core special teams player last season and would likely be relegated to that role again if he made the roster this year. The 2020 undrafted free agent appeared in 12 games as rookie and played the vast majority of his snaps on special teams with just eight of his combined 210 coming on defense. Welch could push for a roster spot with a strong training camp and preseason but is strong candidate to be signed to he practice squad if he doesn’t make the team.

Otaro Alaka

NFL: AUG 22 Preseason - Ravens at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here’s a guy who is a long shot to make the roster as it currently stands but would likely just be a core special teams player if he did. The 2019 undrafted free agent appeared in five games last season before suffering a season ending knee injury, didn’t take any snaps on defense and will face an uphill battle to make the team.