Every year, sharpfootballanalysis.com releases a preview book for the upcoming season. This year’s edition included a new feature ranking positional units. The Sharp Football Analysis team’s rankings focus only on the upcoming season and use a combination of numbers, film, and projections. On Monday, Sharp Football Analysis’ Ryan McCrystal released the defensive front 7 rankings for all 32 teams, with the Baltimore Ravens coming in at No. 18 on the list.
“Baltimore’s front seven took a big hit after a disappointing year, dropping nine spots in our rankings,” McCrystal wrote. “Some changes to the unit backfired last year, as Baltimore ranked 25th in pressure rate on non-blitzes. Odafe Oweh led the team in pressures and needs to take another step in his development for this unit to exceed expectations.”
A lot is riding on Oweh, the team’s second first-round pick in 2021, to help carry what appears to be a lackluster pass rush as several players return from injury at outside linebacker, including the 2021 team leader in sacks Tyus Bowser and 2022 second-round pick David Ojabo. The Ravens re-signed veteran Justin Houston to a one-year deal to help bolster the unit. 2021 fifth-round draft pick Daelin Hayes is returning after missing the majority of his rookie season and will look to play a role as a rotational player, with the potential for a larger role at SAM linebacker if Bowser is unable to start the season after tearing his Achilles in January.
The defensive line saw some turnover this offseason. Veterans Michael Pierce and Brent Urban reunited with Baltimore. Pierce will replace longtime franchise staple Brandon Williams in the middle of the defensive line. Calais Campbell was also re-signed. The team drafted defensive tackle Travis Jones with the No. 76 overall pick in the draft to hopefully bring some much-needed interior pressure. Meanwhile, Derek Wolfe was waived with an injury settlement after missing all of the 2021 season with a back injury. Justin Madubuike is entering his third season and is primed for a big year under defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. Broderick Washington, also entering Year 3, should be in line for rotational duty if he makes the team.
At inside linebacker, the Ravens remain much of the same with 2020 first-round pick Patrick Queen and veteran Josh Bynes expected to be the team’s starters out of the gate. Malik Harrison and Kristian Welch back them up. Queen will need to take a significant step forward on the field in 2022 to become a viable three-down linebacker.