In terms of depth across the unit, the defensive line for the Baltimore Ravens ranks near the top of the deepest positional units for the team heading into training camp.
Using the draft yet again to add youth to the defensive front, the Ravens have stockpiled enough talent at defensive tackle and defensive end to have an ample influx of youth, while also possessing key veterans to round out the unit.
When it comes to predicting playing time, guessing which defensive linemen will get the most on-field time this season – and at what positions for that matter – is a crapshoot.
The Ravens have a versatile front and it will be interesting to see how Dean Pees gets everyone on the field this season, if possible.
Notable new additions: Timmy Jernigan, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Brent Urban – We’ll throw Lewis-Moore in, since it will almost be as if he’s a new Raven this season after missing his entire rookie campaign with a knee injury. An active 5-tech with consistent hand usage, Lewis-Moore should be eased into the rotation this season, with the hopes of aiding the loss of Arthur Jones, a player Lewis-Moore closely resembles.
As for Jernigan and Urban – two rookies – earning playing time won’t come easy. While a second round pick, Jernigan will battle with second-year defensive tackle Brandon Williams and tackle/end hybrid Haloti Ngata for playing time. Jernigan enters with a disadvantage due to the numbers game, but if he can prove himself at defensive end as well, he should be able to find a role in his first year.
Urban – a massive 6’7 defensive end with ridiculous measurables – may have to accept the project route, as Baltimore’s depth at defensive end is a bit steeper than on the interior.
An impressive athlete with J.J. Watt-like ability to bat the pass down, it will be exciting to see if Urban can make some noise in his first season, although ideally fans should be patient if his playing time is sparse in 2014.
Defensive lineman with the most to prove: Haloti Ngata – At the not-so-young age of 30 and already showing some forms of decline, Ngata’s team-high $16 million cap hit for the 2014 season isn’t a pretty sight.
With the season so close, it’s unlikely the Ravens restructure Ngata’s contract, but they may have to do so in the form of an extension next offseason. Seemingly always ailing and not playing to the level he used to, Ngata isn’t the same All-Pro player he once was, granted he’s still a well above average defensive lineman.
If Ngata can stunt the decline in 2014, he would set himself up well for an extension after the year to remain with the Ravens beyond the 2015 season, when his current contract expires. Baltimore’s depth up front should make it easier to limit Ngata’s snaps, which could increase his productivity.
Player to follow: DeAngelo Tyson – A 2012 seventh round pick, Tyson’s playing time has been sparse in two years with the team, but with the departure of Arthur Jones, a door has opened for more playing time to be extended to Tyson.
In his limited snaps, Tyson has proved himself as someone who is much more valuable than a player selected in the seventh round. He is a consistent run defender, and with a bigger role (which is expected) more of his skill set should be on display this season.
He could push veteran Chris Canty for playing time at defensive end.