Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Ravens linebackers ready to silence critics

April 02, 2019 - 10:50 am

By Austin Medina  

Nearly a month ago, the Ravens lost star middle linebacker CJ Mosley in free agency to the New York Jets. Mosley signed a five-year, $85 million contract including $51 guaranteed.

As the Ravens lost their All-Pro defensive leader, the defense has been seen with a lot of uncertainty on who will step up in the middle. The Ravens backers had issues in pass coverage, including Mosley, and that should be a priority trait for the new starter in 2019. 

The Ravens have the replacements already, even before looking for depth in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor surprised many in 2018 with a phenomenal season. He recorded career-highs with eight tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Also known as “Peanut” for his forced fumble abilities, Onwuasor can either stay as the starting weak-side linebacker or move to the recently vacated strong side.

For the second starting linebacker position, the Ravens have a few options who can fill the void. Linebacker Kenny Young, who the Ravens selected in the 4th round of the 2018 NFL Draft, may be the best option currently. In limited action, Young produced a solid rookie campaign as he tallied 51 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.

During the Ravens Week 3 matchup with the Denver Broncos Young started in place of the injured Mosley, who was healing a bone bruise in his knee. In the 27-14 victory, Young led the Ravens with ten total tackles.

Coach John Harbaugh addressed the linebacker situation. “Those guys have to step up and be guys. They’ve got to play inside linebacker. But I feel really good about them... And I really like the fact that those guys play fast, and I think they’re hungry. So let’s go.”

Surely the Ravens can look to add a player for depth or to replace Mosley in the upcoming draft. Players such as Devin White and Devin Bush are sure-fire first-round selections but may be taken before the Ravens select at 22. If they are selected before the Ravens can grab them, there are several prospects worthy of consideration in the later rounds. 

Notre Dame linebacker Te’Von Coney comes to mind as a replacement the Ravens can fit in Day 1. Coney played four seasons with the Irish and started three years. In 2018, he racked up 123 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and four sacks. The Ravens can use another linebacker who secures tackles as well as possesses great awareness in pass coverage and Coney does both.

Alternative linebackers include Mack Wilson from Alabama and Tre Watson from Maryland. Wilson was a projected first round selection before an injury held him out of the Combine. His strong suit is in pass defense, as scouts rave of his instincts and football IQ.   

Watson excels in rush defense, as he racked up a Big-Ten best 110 tackles. Additionally he reeled in five interceptions and showed sound awareness in coverage.

The Ravens have a lot of options to add more talent at the linebacker, but they may have their two starters for 2019 in Onwuasor and Young.