The Baltimore Ravens are expecting a lot from Justin Madubuike as he heads into his third season. The 2020 third-round pick out of Texas A&M started 11 of 15 games played last year along the defensive line, but he should be a full-time starter beginning this year and beyond, logging much more than the 484 snaps he played in 2021.
Finishing his second season with 36 total tackles with seven for loss and two sacks, along with two batted passes, Madubuike has flashed potential, but the Ravens want to see him become the sort of complete player they know he has in him. This offseason, he has spent some time learning from the best, training with the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald.
“I was up in Pittsburgh, yes. I was doing some footwork with him”, he told the team’s website about his work with Donald. “He’s cool and a great guy. I definitely just want to be around that energy to be great and just to learn from people who are great, too”.
Donald, a 2014 first-round pick out of Pittsburgh, has been the dominant defensive player in the NFL for the past decade, winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award three times in that span, and finishing in the top five in voting in every season but his rookie year, when he won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He placed third in voting in 2021 after winning three of the previous four years.
“It just reiterates to me just the hard work aspect”, Madubuike said of what he took away from training with Donald. “Just being able to work hard, it’s a day-to-day process. It’s not easy, but if it was easy, everybody would do it. So, you have to put yourself in that mental aspect and attack it. That’s what I learned from him”.
The two are obviously not identical players, nor do they have the same athletic profile, but it’s never a bad thing to learn from the best in the game. He already worked out with Donald last year as well, so it’s certainly nothing new.
“The guy’s a monster for sure”, he told reporters during training camp last year when asked about his work with Donald. “I definitely want to play at that level, but I honestly went to Pittsburgh probably a month and a half before I reported to camp, and trained with him three or four days, just to pick his brain, meet him”.
He said that Donald didn’t talk much, but one thing that he did tell the young lineman is that he has to push himself. That’s what Donald does to get the most out of himself, so that’s probably good advice for anybody.