Coming out of Grand Valley St., Matt Judon was not a top prospect when the Baltimore Ravens selected him in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He spent most of his career as a rotational player working with Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith, among others, but he got the chance to be a full-time starter in 2019.
The end result was a Pro Bowl season and a franchise tag, posting 9.5 sacks on the season among 33 quarterback hits, which was among the most in the NFL. He also finished with 54 tackles 14 of them for lost yardage, and four forced fumbles.
Coming off his strongest season to date, he is certainly not lacking for confidence, telling reporters last week, “I feel like I’m one of the best players in football”. Now commanding a central position on the Ravens’ defense, he’s ready to become a household name.
“I feel like that’s how you have to feel about yourself”, he said. “I have a lot of arrogance to me that I just don’t show. I just let my game do the talking. I think it’s just confidence in who I am. I’m very confident in myself, and sometimes it might get me in trouble, but on the field, it’s a good thing”.
Despite Judon’s own success, the Ravens’ defense as a whole only had 37 sacks on the season. Nobody on the team outside of himself had more than five sacks, and only Tyus Bowser had that many. Everybody else had three or fewer sacks on the year.
The Ravens looked to change that by making some personnel moves up front, including acquiring Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell via trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars. They originally attempted to sign Michael Brockers as well, but after that deal fell through, they signed Derek Wolfe instead, both of whom hope to add something to the defense’s pass rush.
Despite the improvement sought in the pass rush, they still have one of the top defenses in football with Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Earl Thomas, and Tavon Young, among others. Their 3315 passing yards allowed last season with sixth-fewest, and they only allowed 15 passing touchdowns, second-fewest in the league, with 13 interceptions and 71 passes defensed.
Rush and coverage go hand in hand, so the better one does, so does the other. The secondary has done its part. Now Judon wants to make sure that the front seven is holding up its own end of the bargain, including taking his own game up yet another step.