Dev's Position Analysis: Defensive Line

Dev's latest analysis looks at the Kelly Gregg and the rest of the Ravens' Defensive Line. <br><br>

Lineman: Kelly Gregg, Marques Douglas, Anthony Weaver, Dwan Edwards, Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Jarret Johnson, Aubrayo Franklin.

Starter(s): You could argue that this is perhaps the unit that best symbolizes the Ravens as a team: Tough, fast, hard working and relentless. The line is comprised of a number of players that share those characteristics, with Kelly Gregg being the model player among them.

As the starting nose guard, Gregg doesn't look the part, but he simply gets the job done. Gregg is tough to move because he is short and has thick legs. He will tend to get a lower center of gravity than his opponent, which allows him to win leverage battles inside of the trench. And although Gregg is built like a fire hydrant, he possesses very good lateral mobility, and will not stop charging until the play is blown dead.

Starting at the left end position for a third season in a row is Anthony Weaver. Weaver is smart player that uses his hands well to disengage blocks. He also possesses sneaky quickness and good anticipation, which allows him to get into the backfield quite frequently.

While Weaver and Gregg are entrenched as dependable starters at their respective positions, Marques Douglas doesn't have the same job security, although he made an impressive recovery last year after missing the entire 2002 season with a knee injury. Douglas is very quick, and is adept at knifing through gaps in order to blow a play up behind the line of scrimmage, but he's undersized and susceptible to getting engulfed by bigger offensive tackles.

Pushing Douglas is rookie Dwan Edwards. Edwards lacks an upside, but he is a blue-collar player that plays the run extremely well, and has the bulk that Douglas lacks. At Oregon State, Edwards was successful despite being double-teamed constantly. Although he may not be ready to make a dent right away, Edwards should eventually displace Douglas as the starter, and he may also see playing time at the nose guard position.

Backups: Defensive line coach Rex Ryan likes to use a heavy rotation, so the backups will get the opportunity to log a lot of snaps. The top player coming off the bench is Johnson. Like the other ends, Johnson is undersized, but has a tremendous motor and made a number of momentum changing plays whenever he entered the game last season. If he can add more strength to his frame, Johnson may also push for a starting job down the line, even though it might not be with the Ravens.

At 6'5, 330 pounds, Ma'ake Kemoeatu is the biggest defensive lineman on the team, but has yet to establish his position as a dependable backup because he plays too high. Still, Kemoeatu can be disruptive as a short-yardage run stuffer, and he has better quickness than meets the eye.

Although he's got a number of glaring weaknesses that need to be ironed out, Franklin is another nose tackle that has the potential to develop into a solid role player.

Grade: B

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