Take a look at the Ravens defensive line and tell me what you see. Your answer should be something along the lines of “massive men”. Per the baltimoreravens.com, the only defensive lineman weighing under 300 lbs is defensive end Bronson Kaufusi at just 285 lbs. The average weight of this defensive line is 311.5 lbs. and bumps up to 315.3 lbs. without Kaufusi. Why is this a big deal? Because if the first week of the preseason is any indication of what’s to come, the Ravens defensive line is going to dominate the trenches and stop the run.
The big men upfront simply bullied the Washington offensive line last Thursday, consistently appearing in the opposing backfield and making plays. The two men that shined the most were fourth-year defensive end Brent Urban and second-year nose tackle Michael Pierce.
Ravens defensive lineman Brent Urban made a huge impact in the first half of tonight’s game pic.twitter.com/yGKWVCqobe
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 11, 2017
Urban looks primed for a breakout season after being a rotation piece in his first three years in the league as he struggled with health. Urban is also a major factor on special teams, as many fans will recall a clutch blocked field goal back in the 2015 season versus the Cleveland Browns. In his first preseason game of 2017, Urban made four tackles, including a sack, and forced two fumbles. At a lengthy 6’7″/300 lbs, Urban looks like a big time breakout candidate for the Ravens in 2017.
god damn michael pierce is a monster
— charles mcdonald (@FourVerts) August 17, 2017
Meanwhile, Michael Pierce flashed his own dominance as the team’s starting nose tackle versus Washington. Pierce was an unmovable object on the Ravens defensive line and had three tackles including a huge tackle for loss on Washington running back Rob Kelley. A former undrafted free agent in 2016, Pierce ended up with 35 tackles and two sacks and really came on strong down the end of the stretch. Pierce will become one of the focal points of the team’s defense, as Baltimore has historically had great nose tackles. The 340 lb. Pierce hopes to live up to the hype surrounding him and the expectations are through the roof.
Charles McDonald of Setting the Edge explains why Michael Pierce is in for a breakout sophomore season in his Sophomore Spotlight.
Brandon Williams ate Popeye pic.twitter.com/vkB43woroH
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 15, 2017
But those two aren’t the only studs on this defensive line. Rounding out the likely starters, Brandon Williams will take the 3-tech defensive tackle spot in 2017 and start alongside Urban and Pierce. Williams was given a massive payday this offseason, inking a five-year, $54 million contract with the Ravens. Williams, entering his fifth season in the league, looks to take on a new role for the defense after starting his first four seasons as the team’s nose tackle. Now as a defensive tackle, the 340 lb. Williams will be asked to produce more sacks in addition to his run stuffing prowess.
Behind these three massive men lies crucial depth for this team. The aforementioned Bronson Kaufusi enters 2017 essentially as a rookie after missing all of the 2016 season with a broken ankle. Beyond him, the Ravens selected Chris Wormley out of Michigan in the third round of this past draft. Wormley will likely play a major part of the Ravens rotation as a rookie.
RELATED: Chris Wormley Scouting Report
The Ravens also have guys such as third-year man Carl Davis and second-year man Willie Henry, who both (when healthy) are massive men who are extremely disruptive as pass rushers. Both will also become better run defenders with the rest of this defensive line. The final man for this group is undrafted free agent Patrick Ricard. Ricard looks like a potential UDFA steal for the Ravens shoud he make the roster. With how deep this defensive line is, he might not make it. Even so, he could still easily wind up on another team’s depth chart.
With all of this in mind, take into account the chemistry the defensive linemen will have together and consider all of them bring massive bodies to the table and it isn’t too far of a stretch to see this group as one of the best defensive lines in the league. Unfortunately, it is hard to see any of the above names grabbing a plethora of Pro Bowl votes. But we should know by now that the Pro Bowl doesn’t mean hardly anything. After all, Darren Sproles made the Pro Bowl in 2017 without accumulating even 1,000 scrimmage yards (massive eye roll).
Looking at it from a pure impact standpoint, there won’t be many defensive lines around the league that will compete with Baltimore’s. The talent and depth set them apart from the rest of the league and could very well result in the Ravens possessing the league’s number one rushing defense. After all, the Ravens ranked fifth in the category a year ago. If the defensive line lives up to the hype, opposing teams will struggle to move the ball against this mammoth of a defensive line. Meanwhile, they will open up lanes for linebackers such as C.J. Mosley to fly in and make plays. Not to mention outside edge rushers like Terrell Suggs will enjoy one-on-one match-ups while the big boys like Brandon Williams eat up blocks.
Again, look at it from an impact standpoint, the Ravens have a top five defensive line at worst. View it from a production standpoint and they still could wind up in the top five. This defensive line looks special for the Ravens. Look out and fair warning to the rest of the league. The Ravens are bringing back smash-mouth football inside the trenches.