The Baltimore Ravens have plenty of needs pushing toward the NFL Draft, but the biggest might be on the defensive side of the ball at pass rusher.
After an offseason of losses, there’s a clear need for the team at the spot of edge along the defensive line. The Ravens need to be able to rush the passer better and account for the losses they have sustained up front. A new mock draft has them doing just that with their first pick.
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Recently, Pro Football Focus analyst Steve Palazzolo put together a new mock draft, and within it, he had the Ravens scooping up Georgia edge rusher and outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari to help boost their defense and their attack up front.
“Like many of the other edge defenders in the class, Ojulari has a small sample size of college data, but he emerged last season with the best pass-rush grade in the draft class at 91.7. Ojulari has an old-school 3-4 outside linebacker feel, and that’s a good fit for the Ravens, who want versatility for their blitz-heavy scheme. With good burst, length, and the willingness to get dirty in the run game, Ojulari will join Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee to form a solid trio of edges in the Baltimore defensive front.”
Suddenly, with a potential Ojulari addition, the Ravens are in great shape if the move was to play out. Even with an Ojulari addition, the Ravens might be tempted to make a move for another edge rusher later in the draft. If that happened, the team would at least feel good knowing they have one of the best options already on the roster.
Ravens’ Edge Spot Called ‘Bare’
Ojulari Stats and Highlights
The Ravens wouldn’t be gambling much if they were to snag Ojulari in the NFL Draft, especially early on. He’s one of the top prospects in the class at the position and offers what could be one of the best pure pass rushers in the draft this year. Ojulari put up 68 tackles and 15 sacks in college and has been a strong option for teams looking for pass rush punch. The Ravens scored with other similar options in the draft during years past, and Ojulari would offer them yet another one.
Here’s a look at some of his highlights:
Ojulari brings the strength and the juice as these clips show.
Eric DeCosta Praised Draft’s Edge Depth
The team has lost multiple players at the edge spot and while they have looked into a few free agents, have not dipped their toe into the pool consistently. That points to some heavy lifting being done at the spot in the draft, and that’s just what the Baltimore brain trust seemed to hint at on Monday.
In a pre-draft press conference, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta was asked about the deepest positions in the draft class, and he had the spot of edge mapped out as an obvious answer. That’s good news given what the Ravens need.
“It’s a strong draft with edge pass rushers across the board.” GM Eric DeCosta pic.twitter.com/SN8jWVThMb
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 19, 2021
“It’s a very strong draft I think with edge pass rushers across the board basically in any round, so there’s certainly some players we like at the top of the board in the first-round, second-round, but as we look at the depth of the draft, we see really good players at that position, outside linebacker, scattered throughout. One of the things that really benefits us is I think our coaches and scouts are very aligned on the qualities we want at that position. We’ve been blessed to be in the same scheme. We know what an outside linebacker looks like and I think our coaches do a great job developing those players.”
Tough to argue with DeCosta on that point whatsoever given the talented players he has drafted and acquired through the years. If the edge spot is as loaded as he makes it sound, the Ravens should have no trouble finding a talented player to fill the void.
Ojulari could be one such guy the team decides to turn to in order to get this done.
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