Last offseason, the Ravens received a bit of good fortune when Elvis Dumervil and the Denver Broncos were unable to finalize a contract renegotiation before that offseason’s 4 o’clock deadline. After the dust had blown over and the pundits stopped ribbing the Denver organization, the end result was as dangerous a pass-rushing tandem in a 3-4 defense as Baltimore has seen.
Their performance early in the year was everything Ravens fans hoped for, and then some. Through Week 9, Suggs registered nine sacks and Dumervil tallied eight and a half, as the two edge rushers were terrorizing tackles and quarterbacks around the league. It seemed as though the Ravens fortuitous signing in the offseason was a match made in heaven, and the only thing left for Ravens fans to wonder was just how many sacks the tandem would accrue at year’s end. Could this be a historic combination?
After Week 9, it was a different story.
By year’s end, the total sacks that sat at 17.5 at midseason, finished at only 19.5. The tandem was suddenly neutralized, and it was as unexpected as Dumervil’s presence on the free market. Granted, they both dealt with injuries down the stretch (Dumervil with an ankle injury, Suggs with a foot and upper arm injury at different points) that contributed to their decline in production, but even still, when a team sees their overall production drop off a cliff, there is cause for concern.
Add to the fact that the team’s third most successful pass rusher as far as sacks are concerned, Arthur Jones — who registered four sacks as a 3-technique rusher (lined up between the guard and tackle) — is now an Indianapolis Colt, and the Ravens have to answer some questions with their pass rush.
Suggs and Dumervil are going to be lined up and ready to go after the quarterback, however, the real key to a successful pass rush is team depth. If you’re able to consistently rotate fresh legs into the scheme, the offensive line will eventually end up on their heels. So, that is why many people say that there is no such thing as too many pass rushers.
There are prospects that have the potential to take the next step in the sack department, such as Pernell McPhee, DeAngelo Tyson and Courtney Upshaw, but even still, look for the organization to add some new blood at the position, if only to counteract the inevitable existence of injuries as the year wares on.
So, no, we won’t be trading up to select Jadeveon Clowney in the top 5, however, you may just hear one of these names called in May as the newest Baltimore Raven at Radio City.
Who will that player be? Take a look at the top 10 prospects at defensive end and decide for yourself.