Tired of hearing all the old cliches about how the Ravens are slowing and aging on defense?
Well now you don't have to put up with it…
The Ravens made it a priority both in free agency and the draft to add fast players that could cover the entire field. They wanted edge rushers who can get after the quarterbacks, safeties that can roam the middle of the field and guard athletic tight ends, interior linemen that can play multiple positions, and inside linebackers that can run sideline-to-sideline.
“Speed is important,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said at the conclusion of this year’s draft. “We want a big, fast, physical, tough, smart, disciplined football team. That’s what we want to be.”
They took hard-hitting safety Matt Elam in the first round, adding a player with strong coverage skills who can also come up and defend the run.
“The thing that I think we all like about Matt is his speed,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said.
The Ravens followed up the Elam pick by drafting Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown, Southern Missouri State defensive tackle Brandon Williams and Ohio State linebacker John Simon. All three players are known for their athleticism, and specifically their ability to run.
John Simon, LB, Ohio State, 4.6 in the '40….
Brown is slightly undersized at 6-foot-0, 242 pounds, but he ran a 4.68 at the NFL Scouting Combine. His size dropped him down draft boards, similar to what happened with Ray Lewis in 1996, but he has the speed to play bigger and cover the entire field.
“You want to be as fast as possible,” Harbaugh said. “You want to be sideline-to-sideline. You want to cover ground.”
Picking up Simon in the fourth round was another part of the effort to strengthen the defense by adding speed. When discussing Simon after the draft, Harbaugh pointed to the outside linebacker’s energy, leadership and speed.
“John Simon is very fast,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a 255-pound man that runs a 4.6. This guy can really run.”
The draft continued an overhaul of the defensive lineup this offseason, which started soon after the Ravens won the Super Bowl.
“The fast part of it is really important,” Harbaugh said. “These guys are fast.
“Big and fast is something we do like."