OLB Terrell Suggs' Rookie Role: QB Assassin

Terrell Suggs, the surprise #10 pick of the draft for the Baltimore Ravens has probably been in a state of uncertainty lately. Known as a dominant pass-rushing presence, observers may see him doing something that he's only been vaguely familiar with; backpedaling.

Baltimore projected Suggs as a dominant pass-rushing LINEBACKER in their 3-4 defense, something that's kinda new to him. You see, Suggs had played defensive end in the Arizona Sun Devils high-octane defense for the past three seasons. 

Line up, get after the quarterback. Line up again, get after the quarterback. An endless process at which Terrell excelled at, so much so that he often found himself double and sometimes triple-teamed play after play after play. 

But that didn't prevent him from having one of the most historically dominant seasons that a pass-rusher has ever had by leaps and bounds. Suggs is the proud owner of the NCAA's official sack record with an amazing 24 sacks in a short college football season. 

To put that into perspective, it would take the entire top five D-line player's sack totals for the entire 2002 college season to reach Suggs' sack total all by his lonesome. That is about as impressive as you are gonna get and to land such an impact player with the tenth pick of the draft is something that is very, very rare indeed. 

Ah, but realize that no matter how gifted a player is, anytime that there is a position change that there is a transition period. How quickly Suggs adapts to this change will define his rookie season. 

But it's not like he won't ‘get by with a little help from his friends'. He just so happens to have lined up next to him arguably one of the best LB line-ups in the NFL today. MLB Edgerton Hartwell is an underrated LB who's shown that he can hold his own in a highly talented LB core.

‘Edge' was the fifth leading tackler in the entire NFL in 2002, and really should have been recognized more as a tackling force than the NFL gave him credit for. He had more tackles than such prominent names as the Dolphins Pro-Bowl MLB Zach Thomas and Tennessee's former first round LB Keith Bullock, two guys who received more Pro-Bowl accolades than Hartwell did for sure. 

Then there's the ‘other two guys'. There's this linebacker the Ravens have that is widely considered one of, if not the most dominant defensive player in the NFL and he gets a whole lotta attention. You may have heard of him, he's only a future H.O.F candidate and may go down as one of the greatest defensive players the NFL has ever seen. We all know that we're talking about the one and only Ray Lewis.

Ray Lewis is a player that teams must account for at all times no matter the situation. He's one of those rare three-down MLB's who can impact a game on so many levels and is the unsung leader of a consistently overachieving defense who play bigger than their size. Yeah, he's in there too. 

Finally, there's annual Pro-Bowler OLB Peter Boulware. Possibly one of the most versatile defenders in the NFL, Boulware may be the key to Suggs' development at LB. Boulware's been down that road before having been through EXACTLY what Suggs is going through right now. 

You see, Boulware was also a DE converted into a LB by Baltimore after being drafted in the first round after a stellar college career at FSU. Boulware will be Suggs' mentor and will also benefit from having a comparable outside pass-rushing threat on the other side of the field so teams can't singularly focus on stopping Boulware's pass-rushing attempts. 

So this would mean that Suggs' success would ultimately play a role in Boulware's success at rushing the passer in 2003 and beyond. And Suggs ultimately benefits from Boulware's experience because he'll be better prepared for what's ahead by getting advice from a player with similar talents coming from a similar background. 

One hand washes the other, I like that. And the Ravens hope that they'll like the addition of a premier pass-rushing presence that will hopefully put more pressure on the passer and create more turnovers in the process. 

Ultimately Ravens fans can look forward to seeing Suggs going after the passer early and often as he continues to learn the nuances of playing linebacker in the NFL. Similarly to what the Ravens did with Peter Boulware when he made his debut in the NFL, Suggs will have plenty of opportunities to pound quarterbacks into the turf with ruthless aggression. 

The Ravens should be able to ‘send' Suggs on a regular basis without hesitation as the ‘supporting cast' can more than hold their own while allowing Suggs to do what he does best, laying quarterbacks to rest.-Pro-

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