If Baltimore Ravens’ inside linebacker Patrick Queen could give his high school self some advice, he’d advise to exercise patience.
Queen’s third season has been the year he has broken out at every level to this point. The former first-round pick hopes history will repeat itself as he gears up for his third year in the league.
“Two years down, one more year to look forward to for big things,” Queen said. “It’s year three now, so you know what time it is.”
Queen became the first person from his high school to be offered a football scholarship to play at LSU. He exploded onto their radar as a national prospect following his junior year. As a junior in college, he went from part-time starter to one of the top difference makers on a Tigers’ team that won their first national title in over a decade.
While most NFL players typically make their biggest jump from year one to year two, Queen believes that his third season will be the charm. He intends to make a significant leap in both production and impact in the middle of a reloaded Ravens’ defense.
Last season, Queen still started every game but saw his snaps reduced midway through the year. His role shifted down the stretch to allow him to do what he does best, see-ball-get-ball. Queen moved from the MIKE to WILL spot. The presence of veteran Josh Bynes allowed him to fly around on early downs but come off the field in obvious passing situations at times.
He desires to be an indispensable, every-down defender that doesn’t come off the field — no matter the situation or down and distance. The 22-year-old only took two weeks off before he started training again. He made adjustments to his workout regime and diet to ensure he’d be in optimal physical condition.
“That is very important to me, especially seeing last year how I didn’t get on the field that much,” Queen said. “This offseason, I just focused on being in shape this year and just coming back being stronger, and like I said being more vocal and understanding stuff now. I’m comfortable now, everything is in a rhythm, so now that I can be in those positions, I can stay on the field all the time now.”
Feeling more at home and gaining a better grasp of the game is crucial for Queen heading into 2022. His communication with teammates on the field has improved and he isn’t afraid of whatever comes at him in any given situation.
“Not even being frightened by this formation or that formation, I got this responsibility, I got that responsibility,” Queen said. “Just being able to be more vocal, more open and more open-minded to stuff, and just being able to play football and being able to relax.”
Now, he will be learning from one of the best homegrown middle linebackers in recent Ravens’ memory. The team brought back Zach Orr as their inside linebackers coach, after a year away coaching for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Before a congenital neck condition forced him to retire, Orr earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2016. He was an undrafted free agent in 2014 out of Notth Texas.
Orr has liked what he saw from Queen during OTAs. He knows what it takes to raise Queen’s game to the next level and become a more complete player. Queen’s biggest areas of improvement need to come in pass coverage, where he was a liability at times last season, and being more consistent as a tackler.
“Just as any player, he can continue to get better in the run game, pass game, as a blitzer, because he’s still young,” Orr said. “But I’m really excited about ‘PQ,’ and I think you just see the dedication that he has. It’s good when you combine talent [and] commitment from a player. I think he’s showing everything he needs to do to be a three-down linebacker, and now, it’s just [him continuing] to sharpen those tools in every aspect.”
Queen loves Orr’s enthusiasm and is grateful for the opportunity to learn from a former player that played at the highest level.
“He brings the energy every day in the meeting room, is the main one hollering and stuff trying to get out attention,” Queen said. “
The Ravens drafted Queen to be their next great middle linebacker and he has all the talent to make that happen. He was a plug-and-play starter from day one and has made many splash plays during the first two years of his career. Orr envisions him blossoming into one of the best in the game with more refinement and attention to detail.
“God touched ‘PQ’ [with] natural ability, and he works hard at it,” Orr said. “I honestly believe that [if] he continues to get better, continues to grow, continues to work on the little details, he can be one of the best linebackers in the National Football League.”