The Baltimore Ravens will eventually have a major need at inside linebacker. Could this Iowa defender be the answer?
Most of the current NFL team-specific content should be dedicated to preparing fans for their squad’s upcoming training camp procedures. Naturally, there isn’t much room or need for NFL Draft-related analysis being the 2022 event took place not three months ago.
Even so, many media scouts are busy with summer scouting, indulging themselves in hours of college game film to get an idea of who to look out for this fall. Additionally, most teams still have some questions on their roster even after a full offseason so there are always opportunities to look ahead to next year. The Baltimore Ravens are no different.
Since the departure of C.J. Mosely, the Baltimore Ravens have shown continued struggles with consistency at their off-ball linebacker positions. They’ve made several strides in order to address the position however there still hasn’t been much progress in their search for top-tier play at the position. The Baltimore Ravens linebackers need to show more improvement in 2022 or they could be facing a potential upheaval during the offseason.
Despite these reservations, players such as Patrick Queen have improved from year one to year two. Playing with limited reps at LSU made Queen a bit more of a projection to the NFL than some of his peers, so naturally, the team should have expected some growing pains early on. Queen’s run defense grades have improved by a good margin from 2020 to 2021 while seeing a minimal difference with his coverage grades.
Queen’s athletic profile and increased experience put him ahead in terms of his development so the jury is still out on him. Outside of Queen, Baltimore has also fielded Josh Bynes as the WILL linebacker in their defense, who has played exceptionally well in recent years. However, Bynes is set to turn 33 in August and will be a free agent after the 2022 NFL season. Other players such as Malik Harrison have flashed, but haven’t quite lived up to expectations as of yet.
With training camp currently underway, there is little reason to worry this much regarding the Baltimore Ravens linebacking core. Even still, it’s good to be proactive and keep an early eye on who could be an asset to the team later on.
Jack Campbell of Iowa aims to be one of the top defenders in the BIG 10 this year while also being a cornerstone in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Campbell likely could’ve been one of the first five linebackers taken in last year’s draft had he declared after the 2021 season. Instead, he’s back for another year and will be the centerpiece of the Hawkeyes’ defense.
Campbell is a large, densely built off-ball defender with incredible movement skills in space that helps be an asset in coverage. Additionally, his field vision ranks among some of the best in the class. He can quickly diagnose keys through his gaps and act quickly to bring down ball carriers in the backfield.
Campbell is the prototypical MIKE linebacker in today’s and could easily replace Bynes if he were to leave in free agency following the 2022 NFL season. With that in mind, he would be asked to take on the brunt of run defense responsibilities. As such, he would be asked to fight through the trash of the offense, which he already does astutely due to his field vision and ability to play leveraged versus offensive linemen. Campbell seldom gets fooled in the backfield, easily diagnosing misdirection and using his elite foot quickness to work shoot through the gaps of the offensive line.
Additionally, the Baltimore Ravens have struggled to get consistency from their linebackers when in coverage, especially in 2021 when they ranked towards the bottom of the league against the pass. Campbell excels in coverage, using his football IQ and athletic ability to mirror receivers and quickly break on them to disrupt the football. He’s not a player teams want playing deep coverage on speedy wide-outs, however, he can make defensive coaches feel comfortable about their defenders underneath.
There was a reason he had many fans among NFL Draft fans last year and is likely to find himself at the top of the discussion. Campbell could be a day one starter alongside Patrick Queen, potentially forming one of the better duos in the NFL.