The Baltimore Ravens biggest challenge this offseason was filling the void at inside linebacker.
The team looked to the NFL draft to solve that issue and came away with a pair of playmakers expected to make an impact as rookies.
Here's an early look at the inside linebackers that should make the team:
The Ravens selected Queen in the first round of the draft from LSU. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh expects Queen to mostly play at middle linebacker and stay on the field for almost every defensive snap. Queen emerged as one of LSU’s top defenders in 2019 and played the best football of his college career down the stretch, earning defensive MVP honors in the Tigers' win over Clemson in the national championship game. Last season, he was a regular starter for the first time as a junior and finished with 85 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and three sacks. That performance was good enough for him to forgo his senior season and emerge as a first-round prospect in the draft.
Harrison, a third-round pick from Ohio State, will spend much of his time at weakside inside linebacker. Harrison was a two-year starter and led the Buckeyes with 75 tackles and added 4.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for losses, and four pass breakups as a senior. A bit of an old-school linebacker, he ranked third in ProFootballFocus.com’s run-stop percentage, a metric that essentially measures impact tackles. Only Andy Katzenmoyer (23 in 1996), Ryan Shazier (17 in 2012 and 22.5 in 2013) and Matt Wilhelm (19.5 in 2002) had more tackles for a loss from the linebacker position than Harrison in 2019.
Fort signed a two-year contract extension with the Ravens on Nov. 18. He recorded 26 tackles, two sacks (-12 yards) and one pass defended, helping Baltimore’s defense rank No. 3 in points (17.6) and No. 4 in yards (300.6) allowed per game. Fort also made an impact on special teams and provides a valuable veteran presence. Fort originally signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent from Northern Iowa in 2012. He also spent time with the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, and New England Patriots.
Alaka was signed by the Ravens as a rookie free agent on May 3, 2019. He is looking to show he can be part of the rotation at linebacker after being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury on Sept. 28. Alaka appeared in 53 games (45 starts) for Texas A&M, recording 276 tackles (129 solo) and 11.5 sacks. In his senior campaign, led the team with 79 total tackles and 14.5 TFL (-52 yards), adding 4 sacks and 1 forced fumbles.