Post-Draft Breakdown: Defensive End

What do the Ravens have at defensive end after the draft and what questions remain?

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, May 23rd, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

The Ravens have one side of the defensive line on Pro Bowl lockdown with Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata.

But opposite them, there’s been a bevy of names to enter Baltimore’s defensive end spot.

Once, pass rusher Trevor Pryce manned the left side. Then Baltimore drafted Paul Kruger in the second round in 2009. Last year, the Ravens signed veteran Cory Redding to a reported two-year contract.

This offseason, the Ravens have taken another step to add to the position, drafting Mississippi State defensive end Pernell McPhee in the fifth round.

Here’s what is known and unknown, now that the draft is over:

What We Know…

The Ravens are looking for more from the other side of the line, particularly another pass rusher opposite Suggs.

Redding filled in well there last season in his first year in Baltimore. The veteran started 11 games and recorded 42 tackles (five shy of his career high), three sacks and a game-sealing interception against the New Orleans Saints, the first pick of his eight-year career.

Pernell McPhee Combine Footage
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Redding seemed to get better as the season went on, as he was playing for a winning team for the first time and was getting accustomed to Baltimore’s more flexible scheme.

Kruger hasn’t had as fast a start to his career as he would have liked, recording five tackles in 20 games over two seasons. He came in with the body of a 4-3 pass-rushing defensive end, and originally made the move to hybrid outside linebacker. Kruger went through another body change last year, adding bulk to become a 3-4 end.

McPhee is a high-motor player who notched 32.5 sacks in two years in junior college. He was a steady force after transferring to Mississippi State, twice earning first-team All-SEC honors.

What We Don’t Know…

Who will the Ravens add? Immediate following the draft, Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said he will “very seriously” look to add another pass rusher. Whether that comes at defensive end or outside linebacker remains to be seen. Some free agent defensive ends include Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins and Marcus Spears.

Whomever is signed could come in as somewhat of a specialist – similar to what Pryce was before he was released and signed by the New York Jets – to try to create more pressure in passing downs.

How does Kruger see more playing time and where does he fit? Kruger was a backup last year behind Redding, mainly serving as that passing-down rusher. But Kruger has just one career sack at this point and now that he’s not working with coaches during the offseason, it will be interesting to see what kind of build he has when he returns. Kruger has been eager for his chance to contribute.

What are McPhee’s strengths and how can they best be utilized? He was a sack machine in junior college but dropped off once he was in the tough SEC, logging seven sacks in two seasons. The Ravens envision McPhee as a traditional 3-4 end who can add about 10 or 15 pounds, but are interested to in seeing what he can do.

“At first, we want to see if he can line up,” Newsome told the Carroll County Times. “Can he play against a tackle? Can he stack? Can he shed [blockers] and also can he come off the edge as a pass rusher? He did stand up at Mississippi State in some of their packages.”

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