Credit: Adam Hunger: USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens: Who Will Be The Starting Middle Linebacker?

The Baltimore Ravens have many intriguing battles heading into training camp. (Keep checking back here for a slideshow of the biggest ones.) Right now we are focusing on one specific battle, and that’s the middle/inside linebacker position.

As it stands right now, Daryl Smith will be the number one middle linebacker on the team, but who will be the number two? The Ravens are in a big predicament right now as they have three linebackers on the team that have been drafted in either the first or second round in the past three years.

In 2012, the Ravens drafted outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw out of Alabama in the beginning of the second round. He is a very athletic player but doesn’t have much pass-rushing capability. His real value comes on the ground; stopping the run. Because of this, he may be a better fit in the middle than the outside. However, he hasn’t gotten much of an opportunity to display his talents in his first couple of years. He has had impressive camps and he has played well when given the chance, so he has pressured the Ravens to think about starting him one of these days.

NFL: Preseason-Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Aug 8, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Arthur Brown (59) reacts to the play during the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, the Ravens took middle linebacker Arthur Brown in the second round. Following Ray Lewis‘ retirement, it was hoped that he might advance to become something of a replacement for the great Ray Lewis. However, he too did not get much playing time in 2013, and we really don’t know if he is as good as advertised or not.

The last guy is C.J. Mosley, who the Ravens drafted out of Alabama with the 17th overall pick. He might be the youngest, but believe it or not, he probably has the best shot at snagging the starting spot. Why? Well, the Ravens first-round pick is the team’s highest selection since taking Haloti Ngata at No. 12 in 2006. With such a high pick, the Ravens expect Mosley to be a difference maker for the defense.

There are other veterans on the team that can perhaps make it a little interesting. Starting with Josh Bynes, who has been a very underrated and reliable linebacker over the last few years. He started the first six games of the 2013 season due to Jameel McClain‘s injury, and he played well. However, he is more known for his ability on the special teams, and will mainly be used as depth; in case anyone gets hurt.

The same goes for Albert McClellan and newly-acquired Austin Spitler. They will be used primarily for special teams and will only be inserted in the defense if needed.

At the end of the day, I think it’s safe to say that C.J. Mosley will be lining up next to Daryl Smith come September. However, it may not be for all 16 games, as they have a couple of other young guys waiting to get opportunities.

The Baltimore Ravens do have a linebacker problem on their hands, but it’s what we could call a good problem.

Tags: Baltimore Ravens Ravens Middle Linebacker

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