Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Matt Judon Has Sights Set on Big Goals in Third Year

May 25, 2018 - 10:46 am

By Joe Schiller

Throughout his tenure as general manager, Ozzie Newsome has prided himself on finding small-school prospects in the NFL draft. Those diamonds in the rough who possess the same talent as Power 5 prospects but fall down draft boards due to lack of competition at the collegiate level or a lack of overall recognition.

Matt Judon was one of those players as a fifth-round pick coming out of Division II Grand Valley State in 2015, but the 25-year old has a ceiling that seemingly stretches for miles and is quickly developing into one of the league’s best young pass rushers.

Following a four-sack rookie season, Judon made a tremendous leap in his second year. He started alongside Terrell Suggs in Dean Pees’ 3-4 defense, totaling 58 tackles, eight sacks, three passes defended and two forced fumbles.

Entering the penultimate year of his four-year rookie contract, Judon is expected to be one of the premier pass rushers for the Ravens. In the biggest season of his young career, he’s up for the challenge and has big aspirations.

“Lead the league in sacks,” Judon told reporters. “I’ve just got to keep progressing and be that guy out there. If there is a play needed, I’ll go make it.”

That’s the hunger and ambitious mentality the Ravens will want to hear from Judon. Terrell Suggs is still the unprecedented leader at the outside linebacker position but his years are numbered now at 35-years old.

While Judon may not be a first-round pick like his successor, he bolsters similar traits to Suggs. After all, he became the youngest Ravens linebacker to win AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors since Suggs with a dominant Week 11 shutout performance over the Green Bay Packers last season.

The promotion of linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale to defensive coordinator will have a huge impact on Judon’s performance this season. A player’s coach, Martindale’s aggressive defensive mentality will allow the pass rushers to have freedom on the field, something that seemed to disappear under Dean Pees.

As the Ravens continue their quest to become the league's top defense, they'll be backed by an extremely talented core, led by an up-and-coming pass rusher.