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Birthdays & Draft Dreaming

Houston OTL
original photo: Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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Happy Purple Friday, Ravens fans!

Even though the Ravens’ 2021 season is over, that only means that draft season has just begun!

We’ve also got three big birthdays in Baltimore today: Justin Houston, Haloti Ngata and Jordan Richards! Edge rusher, interior defensive line and defensive back depth are all draft needs in Baltimore, so let’s take a look at some past, present and potentially future Ravens!

Houston was a perfect post-draft signing to round out an outside linebacker group that was badly in need of an experienced pass rusher to anchor the group and mentor the Ravens’ young pass rushers. If he’ll take another ~$2 million contract, I would love to see him back in Baltimore next year. Sure, he only had 4.5 sacks, but sacks aren’t a great metric of success in Wink’s defense. Houston’s 40 pressures, per Pro Football Focus, and top-shelf run defense make him a valuable contributor who should be welcomed back in 2022.

Even if Houston returns, though, the Ravens could be looking to draft an edge rusher after Tyus Bowsers’ Achilles injury. One candidate is Sam Williams out of Ole Miss, who is another extremely speedy edge rusher who can play the run and rush the passer.

Ngata was inducted into the Ravens’ Ring of Fame earlier this season, and the Ravens could certainly use a defensive tackle of his caliber with Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell both set to hit free agency. One early draft candidate is Alabama’s Phidarian Mathis, a high-floor run-stopper with pass-rushing upside.

Plus, we all know how the Ravens love to draft defenders out of Alabama!

Richards, a practice squad safety, is clearly appreciated by Baltimore’s special teams coaches, but he’s a non-factor on defense. He has only 16 defensive snaps over the last 3 season, despite the slew of defensive back injuries in Baltimore, so the Ravens will definitely be looking to draft a defensive back or two in April.

One potential draftee could be Georgia’s Lewis Cine, who flashed some insane closing speed in the National Championship game a few weeks ago. He’s an excellent tackler who can also hold up in man coverage, a must for any defensive back in Baltimore.

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