Almost all of the Baltimore Ravens’ first draft picks were players that became starters in their rookie season.
It appears that won’t be the case this year.
Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison has announced his plan for the newcomers, Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody, and it does not include them in the starting lineup.
Instead, Mattison wants to have Kindle backup LB Jarret Johnson. As much as I want to see Kindle pancake some quarterbacks, I think this was a smart decision. Johnson is one of the most underrated linebackers in the league; he has great pass rushing abilities and sharp coverage instincts. Many people don’t realize his contribution to the Ravens’ defense. Johnson will be a solid mentor to Kindle, and Kindle will be an exceptional backup to Johnson.
Johnson enters his 9th NFL season, so he’s getting up there in age. Kindle can really help Johnson stay fresh, especially late in the season. Because Kindle will have limited opportunities, look for him to take advantage of every chance he gets to make big plays.
The same goes for Cody.
He faces a similar situation because he will backup DT Kelly Greg. Cody will have to take advantage of all the playing time he gets. Since Greg is a 12-year veteran, Cody should have a lot to learn from him.
The fact that Kindle and Cody won’t have to start might be a good thing. It will take some pressure off their shoulders and give them the opportunity to learn from experienced players.
Regardless of who starts, the Ravens’ defense has certainly improved. They’ve added depth and youth to take the load off the veterans and to keep them healthy.
Aside from Ed Reed’s status, the only remaining uncertainty is in the cornerback position. With reports of CB Lardarius Webb being unlikely for return, the front office needs to do something about cornerback depth.