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Williams Would Ignite Ravens Pass Rush

Ravens seek edge rushers
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One of the biggest tests the Baltimore Ravens front office will face during the offseason will be whether or not the pass rush can be improved in just a few months.

Coming off a year in which the Ravens defense finished tied for 24th in the NFL with 31 sacks, things must change in order to right the ship. Part of the reason why the Ravens struggled to maintain leads and close out games in 2016 was the fact that there was never a consistent edge rush.

The likes of Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams provided ample help along the interior, but ultimately the times in which the edge rush went dark in big moments cost the Ravens in some of the season’s most important games.

Combine that with the fact that Elvis Dumervil very well may not be back in 2017, as well as the reality that Terrell Suggs has one, maybe two solid years left in him, and there is reason for concern.

Rookie Matt Judon showed promise, however second-year pass rusher Za’Darius Smith had a classic case of the sophomore slump, providing essentially no value on defense (one sack).

The best bet to get some momentum on the edge may be to look to the draft. This year’s class of pass rushers is one of the better ones in recent years, and there will be a handful of potential impact players for the Ravens to choose from with the 16th overall pick, should the front office feel pressured to address that need early.

One prospect who may still be available at 16 is Alabama linebacker Tim Williams.

Fresh off a nine-sack season, Williams is one of the more “pure” pass rushers in the draft in the sense that he is more or less a one-trick pony. With a to-be-filled-out 6’4″ frame, Williams can play the disruptive, physical game if needed, but he is most valuable as a classic “see quarterback, hit quarterback” defender.

Williams is best when he can use his agility and quick-twitch tendencies to avoid the purely physical side of getting to the quarterback.

With this type of playing style, Williams is reminiscent of Aldon Smith (no, he is not THAT good) in the sense that he has no trouble getting to the quarterback without taking the offensive lineman head on.

The caveat is that Williams has to get aggressive with offensive linemen when needed, and he typically does not possess the natural strength to bull rush a tackle.

While Williams is consistently good as a pass rusher, there is a downside. He will not be known for run support or overwhelming physicality, but then again, that’s not his expected game. He can make a name for himself as a pure pass rusher who can utilize spin and swim moves, as well as his speed, to beat blockers on the edge.

Oh, and for good measure, treat yourself to one of the better spin moves you will see.

The middle of the first round feels like a reasonable sweet-spot for Williams given his one-dimensional play, and perhaps more importantly, his history of off-field trouble.

Williams is talented but comes with baggage, however he ultimately may have the talent to provide a quick fix for Baltimore on the edge.

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