BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There is plenty of hype ahead of the 2020 NFL regular season surrounding Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson; and rightfully so.
Jackson is the reining league MVP after he led the Ravens to a 14-2 record in 2019. That year, he threw over 3,000 yards and racked up 36 touchdowns, while rushing for over 1,200 yards and scoring seven touchdowns. Jackson and company were arguably the most exciting offense to watch in the NFL last season.
But defense has always been a part of the Ravens identity, too. Last year, the Ravens had a top-five ranked defense. The Wink Martindale led defense surrendered, on average, just 17.6 points and 300.6 yards per-game. And, if it’s even possible, the Ravens defense improved over the offseason with some very big acquisitions.
From a stud rookie linebacker out of Louisiana State, to a five-time Pro Bowl defensive end, here are some of the newest names on the Ravens defense you should keep an eye on this year.
Patrick Queen, Linebacker:
The Ravens held on to their 28th overall pick and selected linebacker Patrick Queen in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The 6’1″ 227 lbs. linebacker played his college ball at Louisiana State University where he was known for his game-changing plays for the Tigers throughout his career.
In just three seasons, Queen racked up 85 tackles, three sacks and an interception. He also helped the Tigers win a national championship in 2019 in which he was named Defensive MVP.
Queen now has the opportunity to step in for the Ravens and fill their need at the linebacker position after Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes departed during the offseason as free agents.
Queen is the Ravens first ever draft pick out of LSU and the third time they’ve drafted an ILB in the first round [Ray Lewis and C.J. Mosley].
Head Coach John Harbaugh echoed DeCosta’s praise of Queen.
“His best football is in front of him and he’s got some really good tape behind him,” Harbaugh said. “He plays fast, great blitzer like Eric [DeCosta] said.”
Derek Wolfe, Defensive End:
This offseason, the Ravens signed former Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe to a one-year deal. Wolfe started in 12 games for the Broncos last season and recorded a career-high seven sacks.
The 30-year-old from Negley, Ohio, is an eight-year veteran who has spent his entire NFL career in a Broncos uniform. Wolfe has started in 108 games and registered over 200 tackles and 30 sacks.
Wolfe also comes with playoff experience and a Super Bowl ring. In his career, he has played in five post season games, including the Broncos 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl L. In that game, Wolfe registered three tackles and two hits on quarterback Cam Newton.
With veteran grit and playoff experience, Wolfe will be one of many anchors on the Ravens defensive front.
Calais Campbell, Defensive End:
Last, but certainly not least, Calais Campbell. He is arguably the Ravens best offseason acquisition.
The Ravens acquired Campbell in a trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a 2020 fifth-round draft pick which the team obtained from the Atlanta Falcons in the Hayden Hurst deal.
Campbell, a five-time Pro Bowler, has 88 sacks, 14 forced fumbles and three defensive touchdowns over his 12-year career. He also earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2017.
Campbell, like Wolfe, also has playoff experience. In 2008, he was on the Arizona Cardinals team that fell just short of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. He also made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017.
Also, in 2019, Campbell won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, an award honoring a player’s work in the community.
Both on and off the field, the Ravens scored big when they acquired Campbell.
Barring any injures, the Ravens should have yet another top-tier defense in the NFL this year. On top of an impressive defensive line, the Ravens have one of the best defensive backfields’ in the league. Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Tavon Young are among those who will shut down the league’s best receivers; and, with Wink Martindale calling the shots yet again this year, the team is destined to succeed.