The case for adding a veteran pass rusher to the Ravens’ defense

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens had questions about their pass rush entering the last season.

They were answered when general manager Eric DeCosta added Jadeveon Clowney in August and signed Kyle Van Noy in September. Those moves paid dividends as the duo combined for 18 1/2 sacks.

Van Noy was re-signed, but Clowney reached a deal with the Carolina Panthers as a free agent. The Ravens need to replace his production.

While the team has several young players who might be able to fill the void, the team should consider adding a free-agent edge rusher. Some of the top free agents on the market include Emmanuel Ogbah. Yannick Ngakoue, Carl Lawson, Jerry Hughes, and Charles Harris.

“Most of these guys need some development when they get to this level as pass rushers,” DeCosta said. “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.”

The Ravens hope that third-year player David Ojabo will give them a boost. Ojabo should be ready for training camp after having surgery in November to repair a partially torn ACL, which ended his season after three games.

In the limited time, Ojabo has been on the field, he’s made an impact. In his rookie year, Ojabo recovered from a torn Achilles he suffered on his Pro Day, appeared in two games, and had a forced fumble. Last season, he finished with six tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble before the surgery.

In addition to Ojabo and Van Noy, the Ravens’ other outside linebackers include Odafe Oweh (three sacks), Tavius Robinson (one sack) and Malik Hamm (injured reserve).

The Ravens also added Adisa Isaac in the third round of this year’s NFL draft from Penn State. 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.

Isaac thinks he can help the Ravens’ defense.

“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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