Ravens relying on Adisa Isaac to fill void at edge rusher

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens hope they have solved concerns about their pass rush by selecting Penn State’s Adisa Isaac in the third round in this year’s draft.

The Ravens led the NFL with 60 sacks last season. However, the team lost its best edge rusher, Jadeveon Clowney, who had 9 1/2 sacks but signed a free-agent contract with the Carolina Panthers.

Although Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said that the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Isaac needs more development as a pass rusher, he is confident he can make an impact as a rookie.

“What I like about Adisa is [that] he’s got great length, which is a critical factor,” DeaCosta said. “He’s got heavy hands, he’s got some different moves, he’s got speed and quickness, and I think he’s tenacious. And so, I think [that] all of those things … When you think about our best pass rushers, I think [that] those are a lot of the traits that those guys have, so we’re very excited. I’ve watched a lot of offensive linemen this year in the Big Ten.

“Obviously, we have a need at that position, and so I watched a lot of these guys, and Adisa is a guy that kind of wreaked havoc in the Big Ten this year.” 

Last season, Isaac started all 13 games for the Nittany Lions and finished with 37 tackles (23 solo), 16 tackles for loss, 7 1/2 sacks, four quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He finished fifth in the Big Ten for fifth in sacks per game (0.6)

Isaac is also close with former Nittany Lion and current Ravens inside linebacker Odafe Oweh, a former first-round pick who agreed to a fifth-year option this week.

“He helped recruit me to Penn State,” Isaac said. “We ended up playing together [for] a couple years before he went to the Ravens, so we’re tight. He’s from a similar area to me, so we have a lot of connections there. He was just a great, great teammate [and] a great big brother to me coming into Penn State.

“I just thank him for hyping me [up] when I first got there as a youngin,’ so now, for it to come full circle, it’s a very unique situation.”

The team’s group of edge rushers includes Oweh (three sacks), Tavius Robinson (one sack), David Ojabo (one sack), Malik Hamm (injured reserve), and Kyle Van Noy (nine sacks). As a result, the team will need production from Isaac.

Isaac is excited to get started with his new team.

“I feel like I’m very versatile,” Isaac said. “I can make plays on dropping, make plays on rushing, make plays in the run game. I’m just a very versatile player that you can plug and play anywhere. I just feel like I bring a lot to the Ravens’ organization. We know there is obviously great tradition here, so I’m just excited to learn from all these players and just get better, do my thing and be the best player I can to help this team win.” 

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