The mantra the Baltimore Ravens follow of drafting the best player available has led to an enviable situation with the defensive line.
After stockpiling defensive line talent during the draft over recent years, the Ravens have assembled a talented, deep corps of young defensive linemen. Even with the departure of All-Pro Haloti Ngata, the defensive line is still one of the strong suits of the team.
With a young nucleus of disruptive players, the Ravens will head into training camp with plenty of players to keep an eye on up front.
Notable new additions: Carl Davis – Like clockwork, the Ravens used a day-two draft selection on a defensive linemen, with this year’s choice being Davis, a third round selection out of Iowa.
Like his new teammates Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams, Davis is a versatile defensive linemen who has the strength to play defensive tackle, with enough elusiveness to move to defensive end on certain plays. The talent of Davis and the flexibility he brings to the defense gives the Ravens another player to develop behind the likes of Williams and Jernigan.
Expect Davis to have a rookie season similar to Baltimore’s recent draft picks at the position: a rotational piece whose role will increase as the season progresses.
Player with most to prove: Chris Canty – All the talk has been about the young defensive linemen, and that is mainly due to the fact that Canty (32) is the only front-three player over the age of 26 on the roster. After re-signing with the team in March, Canty appears primed to take on the role of the veteran leader up front, contingent on him having a strong enough training camp to solidify his roster spot.
But even if he makes the team, Canty is far from guaranteed regular playing time, as the play of unproven, injured defensive ends Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore could put a spot in the starting lineup for Canty in jeopardy.
While the most experienced defensive lineman on the roster, Canty must turn in a strong camp to capitalize on Ngata’s absence.
Player to follow: Brent Urban – One player who promises to be an exciting follow during training camp is Urban, who missed out on the festivities last season due to a torn ACL. Slated to be a contributor in 2014, the redshirt year could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Urban, as he faced a crowded defensive line to earn playing time with last season.
Entering this season, if all checks out for Urban health wise, he is a candidate to be a surprise contender for a starting role. The 6’7 mammoth of a defender led the NCAA with nine batted down passes in 2013, and his height will be a welcomed addition to the defensive lineup.
Could a strong camp by Urban push Canty down the depth chart?
Potential surprise: DeAngelo Tyson will be released during final cuts – The slew of talent added to the defensive line since 2012 means a draft pick from that year, Tyson, could be on the outside looking in entering the final year of his rookie contract.
The rotational defensive end has failed to become anything more than “just a guy” during his three seasons with the team, and if Urban and Lewis-Moore are both healthy enough to play this season, Tyson may be searching for work after final cuts.
Tyson has contributed much more than most seventh round picks do, but without any noticeable progress during training camp, it could be time for the Ravens to give other young defenders an opportunity.