One of the most commonly linked player-team combos this past draft season was inside linebacker Patrick Queen and the Baltimore Ravens. It seemed like a natural fit between a talented player and a team need.
The Ravens did end up selecting Queen with their first pick, and they have to be thrilled with what they've seen so far. The first-rounder out of LSU has made a number of splash plays in the first half of his rookie season, his playing style fit Baltimore perfectly and at least one NFL Network analyst has taken notice.
Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout with the Ravens organization and current draft analyst, ranked Queen as the 10th-best rookie in all of football through the season's first nine weeks, noting that Queen is "always around the ball for the Ravens."
On Jeremiah's podcast Move The Sticks, co-host Bucky Brooks strongly agreed with the praise for Queen.
"We talked about the new-school linebackers that you need in the NFL. They have to be able to hit, run and cover. And Patrick Queen can do that," Brooks said on Thursday's episode. "And even though he was an inexperienced player coming into the league, he has already made an impact on the Baltimore Ravens defense...for one of the defenses that blitz almost the most of any team in the NFL, you now get another piece to come downhill, to be aggressive, to create disruption. He has been a perfect fit in a defense that looks lights out."
The Ravens defense has been one of the best in the league all season long. They have been a top-three unit for most of the year according to DVOA's advanced metrics, and they are holding teams to the fewest points per game.
Queen has played a major role, leading the team in tackles through eight games. He isn't the best player on the defense yet, but he is already one of the most important as the best player at the defense's weakest position.
The young star was just the third linebacker selected in the 2020 draft, but not only is he the the highest-ranked linebacker on Jeremiah's list - he's the only linebacker mentioned, period. Three other defenders are ahead of Queen in the top 10: two safeties and a defensive end.
All in all, it looks like the Ravens have hit on another first-round defender. And according to Jeremiah, it was a critical pick for preparing for at least one opponent in particular.
"You talk about range and speed, [Queen] brings it to the table," Jeremiah said on his podcast. "To a team that, you look at the playoffs last year with the Tennessee Titans, can't allow that to happen again. That's why he was picked, and we'll see how it goes as they march towards the postseason."