One of the most intriguing position battles at Ravens TC this year will be among the veterans and rookies who are competing for a starting spot in the defensive end rotation.
Typically the Ravens keep 5, sometimes 6 DE's on the final roster. The number can vary based on the presence or not of hybrid specialists at defensive tackle or outside rushing linebacker.
But I'm betting on 2nd-year veteran Pernell McPhee to rise up and win most of the extra reps in the DE rotation left over after the departure of veteran Cory Redding for greener free agency pastures.
Pernell McPhee, 6-3, 280, 2nd season out of Mississippi State, drafted in the 5th round in the 2011 Draft (165th overall)... McPhee had 23 tackles, 6 sacks and a forced fumble in his rookie year for the Ravens.
The early indication is that Arthur Jones, McPhee and Ryan McBean will compete to replace last year’s starter Cory Redding, who left during free agency. The key for all three players is showing the ability to defend the run and the pass, as the Ravens’ defensive end position does much more than just chase after quarterbacks.
Here's the current roster members who are set to battle for Cory Redding's starter reps:
Arthur Jones (6-foot-3, 313 pounds, third season): Jones started to make a name for himself last year, playing in 14 games as a defensive tackle and defensive end. Jones started one game at end and finished the season with 18 tackles. This offseason, he’s spent more time playing defensive end and said recently that he loves the move to the outside.
Pernell McPhee (6-3, 280, second season): Last year’s fifth-round pick was one of the surprises of the season, as he finished second on the team behind Terrell Suggs with six sacks. The pass rusher also had 23 tackles and one forced fumble. Expectations are elevated for McPhee heading into his second season, as he’s now competing for a starting job as an every-down player. He has battled a knee injury this offseason, which has kept him out of practice, but expects to be ready to go by the time training camp opens next month.
Ryan McBean (6-6, 305, fifth season): The Ravens added the veteran defensive lineman after a career-year last season with the Denver Broncos. He primarily played nose tackle for Denver, but the 6-foot-5, 305-pound lineman has been working at defensive end this offseason. He has shown quickness and strength during Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp, and is making a strong case for a roster spot despite having to miss the first three games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancement policy.
DeAngelo Tyson (6-2, 315, Georgia): The seventh-round draft pick has played end and tackle since coming to Baltimore and is expected to compete for a roster spot. Assessing defensive linemen is difficult at this time of the season because the practices are non-contact, so training camp will be a key opportunity for Tyson to show he belongs on the active roster.
Terrence Moore (6-3, 290, Nebraska): The Ravens signed Moore as an undrafted free agent this offseason. The Nebraska product started seven games during his senior season, recording 20 tackles, one interception and a sack.
I don't like the term starter and/or back-up in the context of a defensive end, there are so many combinations [rotations] the Ravens can use at DE, not to mention combinations with their linebackers rushing off the edge, that talking about "starters" at this stage in the pre-season is practically meaningless...
Nevertheless, here is your primary cast of candidates to move up to prime-time recognition and status on the defensive ends of the Ravens' 3-4. If it turns out to be Pernell McPhee taking over the limelight that Cory Redding once performed under, then I won't be surprised... But I will marvel at how far McPhee has come and how fast he has gotten there.