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Ravens Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison doesn’t want to call anybody “old.” He prefers “experienced.”
But there’s no denying that the Ravens’ defensive front seven was getting a little … aged.
Defensive end Trevor Pryce (34), linebacker Ray Lewis (34), nose tackle Kelly Gregg (33) and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (33) make up nearly half of Baltimore’s over-30 club.
As such General Manager Ozzie Newsome set out this draft to give his defense a facelift. Outside linebacker Sergio Kindle, 22, and defensive tackle Terrence Cody, 21, should do just that.
“Getting younger on defense is something that we wanted to do,” Newsome said. “To be able to rush the passer, that’s what Sergio [Kindle] can do for us. To be able to stop the run, that’s what [Terrence] Cody can do.”
The Ravens had not invested their first draft pick into the defensive front seven since 2006, when they selected defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Over that span, they used just one of their first two picks to address that area (Paul Kruger, 2009).
Baltimore still stood tall in 2009, ranking third in the NFL in total defense. But the Ravens notched the second-fewest sacks in team history (32) and saw their 39-game streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher snapped. As Newsome said, Kindle and Cody should help.
“I don’t know if you say you’re younger,” Mattison said. “I think you say you have more weapons.”
Even with Cody behind him, Gregg’s legs will still be 33-years-old. Then again, they could feel a lot younger if Mattison’s script plays out and Cody gives Gregg a few more snaps off per game. In essence, Mattison has an enviable mix.
“The thing you always want to have is experience and then guys who gain experience from the guys that are already there,” Mattison said.