A Look Ahead At The 2022 Baltimore Ravens Defense

July 27, 2022

As the 2022 training camp opens for the Baltimore Ravens, cautious optimism abounds as the fans look to forget an injury-plagued 2021 campaign.

The Baltimore Ravens are set to fully open camp on 7/26 after a long offseason filled with speculation about the health of their superstars returning from injuries. Among the players speculated, dynamic running back duo JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards will start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P) list. Joining them are left tackle Ronnie Stanley, outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, cornerback Marcus Peters, and safety Ar’Darius Washington. Rookie outside linebacker David Ojabo will begin the year on the injured reserve.

Defensive Line

The Baltimore Ravens were quite active on the defensive line front in the offseason. Former defensive linemen Brent Urban and Michael Pierce made their way back to Baltimore. They drafted nose tackle Travis Jones out of UConn in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. They also retained the services of veteran defensive end Calais Campbell.

Baltimore aimed to get younger at the position but still managed to keep the veteran presence known in the defensive line room. Long-time nose tackle Brandon Williams was not resigned after nearly a decade anchoring the front three of the defensive line. Derek Wolfe was released with an injury settlement last month after his reported second hip surgery since the 2021 season came to a close.

The media and the fans have often been critical of this group. They never seemed to get younger at the position and overpaid to retain fan-favorite veterans. When the opportunity came to secure younger defenders along the line, other teams often overpaid to acquire the services of the Ravens’ big men.

Returning defensive end/tackle Justin Madubuike is in his proverbial make-or-break year. Madubuike had some pretty heavy hype heading into 2021 and fell short of delivering the inside pass rush the Ravens have needed. After a year of underperformance, Madubuike will be looking to bounce back alongside Calais Campbell and Michael Pierce. With the additions of Travis Jones and Brent Urban, the line looks to take the next step in solidifying the front of the Ravens’ defense.

Linebackers

Contrary to the defensive line position, Baltimore did not do much to address the linebacker corps as a whole. The team brought back inside linebacker Josh Bynes for another season. Veteran linebacker Vince Biegel was signed to provide depth. Biegel is a great special teams contributor and has experience at both inside and outside linebacker.

Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison return to the team, alongside Tyus Bowser, who is recovering from a late 2021 season Achilles tear. The team did not draft an inside linebacker with any of their picks from the 2022 NFL Draft. The lone draft pick at outside linebacker was David Ojabo. Ojabo, like Bowser, is recovering from an Achilles tear during his pro day at Michigan this past March.

Baltimore decided to address the EDGE position via free agency and re-signed Justin Houston. After posting five sacks last year, Houston will once again provide leadership at the pass rush position as well as take on a leadership role. With Tyus Bowser recovering from his injury, Houston figures to be the day one starter at outside linebacker. Second-year pass rusher Odafe Oweh figures to build upon an impressive rookie campaign and enter the double-digit sack performance this coming year.

The undrafted rookie class figures to be in contention to take a few roster spots this year. Inside linebackers/special teams aces Chris Board and Kristin Welch will be pushed by rookies Diego Fagot and Zacoby McClain. Rookie inside linebacker Josh Ross from Michigan will push to get reps at inside linebacker alongside Malik Harrison. Rookie edge rusher Jeremiah Moon of Florida will make noise to lock in his place amongst the EDGE rushers. Moon possesses the size that Ravens brass loves at 6feet4 245 pounds.

This group is the biggest unknown of the 2022 Ravens defense. Will Patrick Queen take the next leap and be the next great Ravens inside linebacker? Which inside linebacker will step up next to ”6”? This camp is imperative to the status of the defense.

Secondary

Arguably, the Baltimore Ravens secondary is a top 5 unit on paper heading into this season. At the end of last season, the secondary was held together by paper clips and bubble gum. The secondary had Swiss cheese-like holes after numerous injuries. Other than second-year safety/cornerback Brandon Stephens, there are zero returning healthy cornerbacks.

Rookie safety Kyle Hamilton is poised to contribute to the defense from day one. Hamilton will unseat incumbent strong safety Chuck Clark as the starter. Free agent free safety Marcus Williams comes to Baltimore after inking a five-year contract for north of $70 million dollars. The duo of Williams and Hamilton figures to be among the league’s best moving forward.

All-Pro cornerback tandem Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey are set to return to the starting lineup. Peters is being brought along slowly from his ACL tear. Humphrey is back to practice after a torn pectoral. The team selected Jalyn Armour-Davis out of Alabama and Damarion ”Pepe” Williams of Houston in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. To add depth to the cornerback group, Baltimore native Kyle Fuller signed a one-year deal in the offseason.

Barring the health of the secondary, this group figures to be at the top of the league. Marcus Williams provides the centerfield presence Baltimore has lacked since Ed Reed. The presence of Kyle Hamilton allows Chuck Clark to slide into the Anthony Levine hybrid linebacker role. New defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald has the tools at his disposal for the upcoming season. Hopefully, the unit gels and brings Baltimore back to defensive dominance.