Ravens inside linebacker Chris Board only played 7 percent of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in 2019, but he sees an opportunity at his position in 2020.
Board, 24, was signed as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State in 2018 and has played in 31 of a possible 32 games since then, mostly on special teams. But with the competition at inside linebacker being wide open — L.J. Fort and Otaro Alaka are the only other ones on the roster right now — Board sees a chance to break through in camp.
“Every offseason, I really work and make sure I come into camp and OTAs ready to go,” Board said on Glenn Clark Radio March 30. “Just knowing that I have an opportunity drives me even harder. Definitely an opportunity and jobs out there to be had, so just looking forward to seeing what’ll happen and what’ll shake out these next few months. Definitely exciting.”
Board played for FCS powerhouse North Dakota State from 2013-2017, going from redshirt to special teamer to safety to linebacker during his five years there. The Bison have won eight of the last nine FCS titles and won four in five years during Board’s time with the program. He played linebacker as a senior, finishing fourth on the team in tackles with 54.
He was a key special teams contributor throughout his time at North Dakota State, excelling in particular in kick coverage; he made 38 tackles while covering kicks from 2014-2017. That portion of his game has carried over to the pros; he played 80 percent of the Ravens’ special teams snaps in 2018 and 67 percent in 2019.
“Kind of crazy just to see where I’m at, how I’ve played a role on special teams, it’s just crazy because many people didn’t think I’d make it this far,” Board said. “But I’m definitely hungry and want to prove that I can play and do a lot more than just play special teams.”
How much the Ravens ask of Board as a linebacker will depend on how they fill out their roster, particularly in the draft. Baltimore has been mentioned often as a potential landing spot for late-first-round prospects Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen, inside linebackers from Oklahoma and LSU, respectively.
Regardless of how the rest of the offseason shakes out, Board figures to again be a key part of the Ravens’ special teams units, which will look to improve upon what they showed in 2019. Baltimore ranked 27th overall in Rick Gosselin’s 2019 special teams rankings, a sharp decline from years past. The Ravens allowed 9.5 yards per punt return, the fourth-worst mark in the league.
“We definitely take pride on special teams with the Ravens,” Board said. “That’s definitely how I stayed on the team, pretty much made my role here. Definitely thankful that we basically put so much emphasis on it, and we look forward to being better this year.”
For more from Board, listen to the full interview here:
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