Ravens' Updated Depth Chart on Defense After Yannick Ngakoue Trade

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 22, 2020

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is pictured during the first half an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 27-26. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

The Baltimore Ravens are hoping Yannick Ngakoue can upgrade their front-four pass rush after reportedly acquiring him from the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.  

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Ravens are finalizing a deal to send a 2021 third-round draft pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round draft pick to Minnesota for Ngakoue. 

This marks the second time in two months that Ngakoue has been traded. Minnesota acquired him from the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 21 for a second-round pick in 2021 and a conditional fifth-rounder in 2022. 

Here's what the Ravens' defensive depth chart looks like after the Ngakoue acquisition:

Defensive End: Derek Wolfe, Yannick Ngakoue, Jihad Ward

Defensive Tackle: Calais Campbell, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington

Nose Tackle: Brandon Williams, Justin Ellis

EDGE: Pernell McPhee, Jaylon Ferguson

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Middle Linebacker: Patrick Queen, Chris Board

WILL: L.J. Fort, Malik Harrison

SAM: Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser

Left Cornerback: Marlon Humphrey, Anthony Averett, Khalil Dorsey

Right Cornerback: Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith

Strong Safety: Chuck Clark, Anthony Levine Sr. 

Free Safety: DeShon Elliott, Jordan Richards

Depth chart via BaltimoreRavens.com


Baltimore is currently in second place in the AFC North with a 5-1 record. The defense has already been dominant, allowing an NFL-best 17.3 points per game. 

As impressive as the Ravens overall stat line is, the addition of Ngakoue seems like a play by the front office for the playoffs and a potential rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs

In Week 3, the Chiefs picked apart that defense for 517 total yards in a 34-20 win. Patrick Mahomes was especially effective against defensive coordinator Don Martindale's blitz-heavy play calling:

The Ravens rely on the blitz in general, with Vincent Verhei of Football Outsiders writing in August that Martindale used at least five pass-rushers on an NFL-high 48 percent of defensive snaps last season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were second at 40 percent.

It can be an effective strategy, as Verhei also showed that Baltimore's 51 percent pressure rate on opposing quarterbacks ranked third in the NFL last year. The defense is currently tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the second-most sacks in 2020 (22). 

Adding Ngakoue to the line will allow Martindale to change up his strategy in certain situations to drop more players into coverage when taking on someone like Mahomes who can carve defenses up if there's an opening in the secondary because a cornerback is blitzing off the edge. 

Ngakoue has been a disruptive pass-rusher throughout his career, including during his brief stint in Minnesota. The 25-year-old had at least eight sacks in each of his four seasons with the Jaguars. He's on track to pass that number in 2020 with five sacks in six games. 

Per Pro Football Focus, Ngakoue's best skill so far this season is as a pass-rusher:

Adding Ngakoue is also about putting another good player on what is already a great defense. Opposing teams now have to figure out a way to game plan for Ngakoue, Campbell, Pernell McPhee, Matthew Judon, Patrick Queen, L.J. Fort and Brandon Williams just on the first two levels of the defense. 

Once you get past that group, opposing quarterbacks have to throw into a secondary that features Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith, DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark. 

The top of the AFC is loaded, with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans undefeated heading into Week 7. The Chiefs are dangerous because their offense can strike at a moment's notice. The Buffalo Bills have a high ceiling if Josh Allen plays like he did in the first four weeks. 

The Ravens are good enough to stand with any of those teams in their quest to win a Super Bowl in 2020. Ngakoue, who is eligible for free agency after this season, will get a chance to play on a big stage with one of the best organizations in the NFL. 

This is a win-win move for Baltimore and Ngakoue.