Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta simply could not find the right fit at inside linebacker in this year’s NFL Draft.
The top playmakers at this spot, Michigan’s Devin White and LSU’s Devin Bush, were taken well before the Ravens were on the clock. White went to Tampa Bay with the fifth overall pick and the Steelers traded up to grab Bush with the No. 10 selection.
As a result, it appears that Patrick Onwuasor and second-year Kenny Young are the most likely players to patrol that area of the field. Chris Board, who made his mark mostly on special teams, is another potential option.
The Ravens could also sign a veteran that becomes available and find an undrafted rookie that can make some type of impact.
“We like the guys we have,” DeCosta said. “We think we’ve got some really good football players in this building that play inside linebacker. It’s just one of those things. We’ll continue to look at available players that are out there on the streets and other teams’ players.
“We get phone calls all the time, and we’ll continue to look at that. But we’re comfortable that we have guys that can play the position here in Baltimore on the team, and we expect those guys to improve and get better as well. We’ll just address it at some point.”
Harbaugh has expressed confidence that Onwuasor, Young and Board can effectively offset the loss of C.J. Mosley. He expects each of those players to take the next step in their development after playing well in 2018.
“ Those guys have to step up and be guys,” he said. “They’ve got to play special teams. They’ve got to play inside linebacker. But I feel really good about them, because I really like our defensive line and I really like our secondary. And I really like the fact that those guys play fast, and I think they’re hungry. So let’s go.”
The Ravens will conduct a rookie minicamp at the Under Armour Performance Center this weekend in Owings Mills. First-round pick Hollywood Brown will likely be a limited participant because he is still recovering from Lisfranc foot surgery.
One player to watch is Otaro Alaka, an undrafted rookie from Texas A&M that is expected to sign with the team. He will join former another former Aggie, Daylon Mack, a defensive tackle that was taken in the fifth round.
Alaka started all 13 games at middle linebacker for Texas A&M as a senior and led the team in tackles (79) and tackles for loss (14.5). The Aggies allowed just 95.2 rushing yards per game.
DeCosta hopes Alaka will help offset the challenge of not finding a suitable linebacker in the draft. He was simply not going to take a player simply based on need.
“There were players that we really liked in this draft in the first round, second round, third round, fourth round – inside linebackers, but, it just has to work out,” he said. “The right player has to be there at the right time. It wasn’t necessarily the position that had the most prospects this year, so there weren’t a lot of guys to begin with at that position, which we knew going into the process.
“We were probably only looking at a handful of guys that realistically we thought had a chance to kind of come in and really help us.”