The Baltimore Ravens were not entirely prepared to lose C.J. Mosley in free agency, but even so, they continued to fail to address the inside linebacker position subsequently in the draft and free agency. Which means that the position is falling into the hands of a group of young players, led by second-year Kenny Young, who did see the most snaps behind the starters there last season when there were injuries.
Young, a fourth-round pick in 2018, officially started three games and recorded 51 tackles with two and a half sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass defensed. Statistically, that is a good start, of course, but he is a long way from filling in Mosley’s shoes.
On his former teammate, he said, “I was shocked” that the Ravens were unable to re-sign him. “I thought he was going to be the Tom Brady of our defense, sign the next contract and stay with us and be the face of this defense. It’s a business, that’s one thing I learned from it. I’m trying to be the next man up”.
For what it’s worth, Mosley had said in the past that he planned to be a Raven for life, similar to Ray Lewis, but obviously players end up saying a lot of things they fail to commit to once a whole lot of money gets involved (and nobody can blame them for that).
He is currently the frontrunner to take over Mosley’s spot alongside the emerging Patrick Onwuasor, who in his third season last year started 12 of 16 games, recording 59 tackles with an interception, two forced fumbles, five and a half sacks, and three passes defensed. He will compete with Chris Board, as it currently stands, and Anthony Levine, a hybrid player, can work into the mix as well.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said earlier this offseason, “I would be anticipating us to play with a three-man rotation in there” next to Onwuasor, with the three players mentioned above, but if somebody like Young could seize the job, that would alter the plans.
“I think the game is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. If you can get the game worked out in your mind, you’re going to be a great player in this league”, he said. “As far as awareness wise, I feel like I’m lightyears ahead of where I need to be. And the credit for that goes to the coaches. I’m way more prepared than I’ve ever been in my entire football career. Things are slower for me”.
The Ravens’ defense is predicated on stout play from the inside linebacker position, so they will really need one of the young players to step up after they were unable or unwilling to find a suitable replacement for Mosley. They tried to sign Brandon Marshall, but wanted him to wait until after the draft so that he wouldn’t count against the compensatory pick formula.