Ravens Rumors: Former Eighth Overall Pick Fits Perfectly

August 11, 2022

A former eighth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft has requested a trade from his team. He enters a contract year in 2022 and could be a major upgrade for the Ravens.

The Baltimore Ravens have a very rich history of middle linebacker play. Since 1996, Baltimore has boasted the greatest middle linebacker to ever step foot on the gridiron, Ray Lewis. From the onset of the franchise’s existence, Lewis was the standard-bearer for linebackers not only in Baltimore but league-wide. The organization’s ability to find inside linebackers is second to none.

During the storied history of the franchise, the Ravens have found inside linebackers such as Bart Scott, Edgerton Hartwell, CJ Mosley, Jameel McClain, Zachary Orr, Tommy Polley, and Daryl Smith through the draft or free agency. With the exception of a few seasons missed by Lewis via injury, Baltimore has had, at worst, above-average inside linebacker play. Most recently, CJ Mosley departed in 2019 and was replaced by 2020 first-round pick Patrick Queen. While showing signs of being a superstar, Patrick Queen has yet to remain consistent in his time as the starting inside linebacker.

It is easy to criticize Queen thus far. He was a first-round pick just three drafts ago and isn’t a three-down linebacker. The team had to sign Josh Bynes off the street as a free agent last season to offset Queen’s inefficiencies. When Queen slid to the weak inside linebacker position he flourished. The Ravens decided to bring Bynes back to be the starting strong-side inside linebacker again this year. While Bynes’ play was admirable, he is approaching his mid-30s.

A Potential Roquan Smith Acquisition Fits The Ravens Well

A few days ago, Chicago Bears star inside linebacker Roquan Smith publicly requested a trade after reaching an impasse with the new Bears front office on an extension. Smith stated that the Bears’ new regime has not negotiated in good faith and has stood firm on multiple ”take-it-or-leave-it” offers on a long-term deal. This, in turn, led the former eighth overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft to ask for a trade. To make matters worse, Chicago removed Smith from the PUP list and can now begin to fine Smith $40,000 per missed practice under the current CBA guidelines.

This is a perfect storm for Eric DeCosta and company. Tonight’s preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans would be the perfect stage to showcase potential trade bait to the Chicago Bears. Chicago is in constant need of offensive line help. Meanwhile, the Ravens have quite a few offensive linemen that could pique the Bears’ interest.

It would be facetious to think that obtaining Smith would be easy. Chicago will certainly command draft pick compensation and/or starting level player(s). General manager Eric DeCosta would absolutely need to re-work a contract or two to create cap space for Smith’s cap hit of over nine million dollars.

This is purely speculative on my part, but dangling Patrick Queen as a trade piece would be intriguing. It would give both linebackers a career re-set and a much-needed change of scenery. Chicago would get cap relief and an inside linebacker in return. The Ravens would get an upgrade at inside linebacker and would change the dynamic of Mike Macdonald’s defense.

Roquan Smith’s Impact Could Improve The Ravens Defense

Patrick Queen is a really good football player. There is a reason he was a first-round draft pick. With that being said, Roquan Smith is an immediate upgrade. Smith averages over 130 tackles a season to Queen’s 102 per season. Smith is also far better in pass coverage and blitzing.

Adding Smith to the Ravens’ defense would give the Ravens the ability to field more nickel and dime defenses in a pass-happy league. The presence of Smith would allow Bynes to play on run downs and be spelled during the passing downs. Macdonald could utilize Kyle Hamilton, Chuck Clark, or Tony Jefferson in the box as a hybrid linebacker/safety. The inside linebacker would no longer be considered a defensive liability on passing downs.

Roquan Smith possesses the attributes and size the Ravens crave for their linebackers. Smith stands at six-foot-one and 235 pounds. He is a sure tackler and would be able to endure the physical AFC North running backs. There is little doubt that Smith would continue the trend of great Baltimore Ravens inside linebackers. If the price is right, Eric DeCosta will be on line one.