Filling one of their most critical positions of need with a player that general manager Eric DeCosta said was the best one on their board at the time, the Ravens selected LSU linebacker Patrick Queen with the No. 28 overall pick in the NFL Draft April 23.
Queen had 85 tackles, including 12 for losses, and three sacks this year for the national champion Tigers. At 6 feet and 229 pounds, Queen is smaller than some other inside linebackers but has burst to defend the run and athleticism to cover running backs and tight ends, making him a potentially three-down linebacker for defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.
“He makes us so fast,” DeCosta said via video news conference, adding that Queen is explosive, with sideline-to-sideline ability and a good blitzer. “He’s a great fit for our defense.”
Head coach John Harbaugh said Queen “jumped off the tape. … He’s flying around in the biggest games against the best teams making play after play.”
“For us to come away with Patrick Queen is a big win,” he added.
With nine picks in this year’s draft, there was speculation that the Ravens might package picks and climb higher in the first round, but instead they stayed put, picking in their original slot for the first time in three years. (They traded back in both 2018 and 2019, later trading back into the first round in 2018 for a second pick that netted quarterback Lamar Jackson.)
Queen, who had been projected to be a top-20 pick in many predraft rankings, watched as Oklahoma inside linebacker Kenneth Murray was selected at No. 23 by the Los Angeles Chargers, and then the Seattle Seahawks leap-frogged the Ravens, trading up to take Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks at No. 27.
“It was a long, long, long wait,” Queen said, “but it all worked out.”
Queen said he’s well aware of the Ravens’ defensive tradition, particularly with first-round inside linebackers — Ray Lewis is in the Hall of Fame, and C.J. Mosley left after last season after multiple Pro Bowl appearances.
“The bar is set high,” Queen said.
The drafting of Queen addresses perhaps the team’s most pressing need, with the Ravens losing linebackers Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes to free agency. The returning inside linebackers include L.J. Fort; Chris Board, who played just two defensive snaps after Week 4 last year; and Otaro Alaka, who did not see any action and was on injured reserve most of the year.
Last week the Ravens agreed to terms with inside linebacker Jake Ryan, pending a physical. Ryan, a five-year veteran, has been sidelined by injuries most of the past two years.
The Ravens are coming off a 14-2 season that included a 12-game winning streak to end the season, and Jackson was named the league’s Most Valuable Player after directing an offense that set a host of league and franchise records.
Defensively, the Ravens ranked No. 4 overall, No. 5 against the run and No. 6 against the pass. But the Tennessee Titans ran for 217 yards en route to upsetting the AFC’s No. 1 seed in the divisional round of the playoffs, and the Ravens’ offseason moves to date suggest their top priority is to bolster that defense.
The Ravens’ two key offseason acquisitions this spring have both been defensive linemen — Calais Campbell, who was acquired via trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Derek Wolfe — and Queen adds more teeth in the middle of Martindale’s system.
In drafting Queen, the Ravens went defensive with their top pick for just the second time in the past six years. From 2015-19, the only defensive player selected first by the Ravens was cornerback Marlon Humphrey in 2017.
The Ravens last picked a linebacker with their first pick in 2014, when they selected C.J. Mosley at No. 17 overall.
Queen is the first player from LSU ever drafted by the Ravens, who have selected a franchise-high 11 players from Alabama and Oklahoma.
“It only took us 25 years,” DeCosta joked.
This was updated with quotes from GM Eric DeCosta, head coach John Harbaugh and linebacker Patrick Queen.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of LSU Athletics