Let’s be honest. In the competition at linebacker, all fans’ eyes are in the middle.
We know one thing for sure: Daryl Smith will be one of the starters. However, which of the young Ravens inside linebackers will seize the role next to Smith? Will it be first-round pick, C.J. Mosley, or last year’s second-round pick, Arthur Brown?
Last season, there was a similar question as to who would play with Daryl Smith. Brown, by most accounts, wasn’t at the point where the game slowed down for him. As a result, undrafted free agent, Josh Bynes, got the nod from coaches. The game can move fast for a rookie, and it normally takes at least parts of the first season to stop their heads from spinning.
That is perhaps what makes the battle in training camp all the more impressive. C.J. Mosley hasn’t looked like a rookie.
For all the talk about Alabama producing or not producing great NFL players, whether you argue one way or another, chances are your argument hinges on the level of coaching they’ve already received. Alabama players just don’t have much more untapped potential — after being essentially coached by a pro coach for four years, what more can coaches say? So when you hear things about Mosley flying around the practice field and already understanding his assignments and the corresponding defenses, some may try paint that as a negative, but it is all positive on this end.
Meanwhile, Brown experienced the usual growing pains in his first year. He played sparingly, only coming in on some coverage packages and special teams. By all reports though, he has played this offseason with far more confidence, and the speed that caused scouts to project him in the first-round in 2013 is on full display. Now that the logistical side of the game has slowed for Brown, his natural athleticism and instincts are able to take over. Not to mention the increased bulk he put on this offseason — all things have been positive on Brown’s end as well.
So where does this leave us? Well, Brown and Mosley will battle it out in training camp to see who starts immediately. The way things have been talked about thus far, it seems as though Mosley has a slight edge over Brown.
But, long term? Let’s just say deciding which deserves to start will be a moot argument — I have a feeling they won’t come off the field very much, at all.
The Ravens could have one of the premiere inside linebacker tandems in the NFL. It is just a matter of time before the reins are handed over full-time. For now, we can revel in the competition between two hungry, freakishly athletic linebackers.
As for the rest of the roster, Suggs and Dumervil will make the rotation a tight one, but with Upshaw, McPhee and others available off the bench, the bright side is, there shouldn’t be many instances of fatigue in the Ravens front seven.