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Ravens Offseason Needs in 2011: Defensive Edition

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TOP POSITIONAL NEEDS ON DEFENSE

1. DE/OLB: Pass Rusher

The Baltimore Ravens totaled 27 defensive sacks in 2010, which ranked near the bottom of the NFL. OLB Terrell Suggs, who had an outstanding year, accounted for 11 of the team’s total sack count. And the addition of DE Corey Redding did help stabilize the defensive line for the Ravens. Heading into next season, getting a pass rusher opposite of Terrell Suggs will be a top priority.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome hinted during the Ravens year-end press conference that it would be nice to have a pass rusher, opposite Suggs. Newsome was on the right track last year, drafting Rookie OLB Sergio Kindle. However, Kindle may never see the field again due to his accidental fall, resulting in a head injury, before the season began. The team also traded away OLB/DE Antwan Barnes at the beginning of the year— he finished with 4.5 sacks in 11 games with San Diego.

Keys:

  • The jury is still out on DE Paul Kruger, who was seldom used as a pass rusher. Will new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano have new plans for Paul Kruger in his natural position as an edge rusher?
  • Re-signing Haloti Ngata. In a 3-4 defense, it all starts with having a dominant nose tackle. Ngata finished the year with 5.5 sacks.

Bottom line:

Look to the draft for an edge rusher. There is much talent in this year’s draft for a defensive lineman. As pointed out by NFL. Analyst Mike Mayock,

If you are looking at a deep grouping in this draft, it is the defensive lineman in general, because the defensive tackles are pretty good, too. I think you’ll see a run on the defensive line early. It’s a pass-first league now, and anyone who can get pressure on a quarterback is highly coveted.”

2. Cornerback: Shut-Down Corner

The season began with Dominique Foxworth going to IR, along with Fabian Washington and Ladarius Webb coming off ACL tears. However, the secondary held their own. But still, the unit could improve by adding a “shut-down” cornerback. Fabian Washington was off to a good start, but eventually lost his confidence and his starting role to Josh Wilson, who played above average throughout the year. Ladarius Webb, who had a decent year, is still not considered a shut-down corner.  Next season, Foxworth is expected to return healthy. Overall, the Ravens secondary finished 21st in the league for passing yards allowed.

Keys:

  • Before upgrade at this position, much will depend on the re-signing of Chris Carr and Josh Wilson

Bottom line:

Think of what happened in the Super Bowl; what stood out most was how the Steelers got beat because of their weak secondary. Finding good cornerbacks should be a high priority.