Patrick Queen Replacement Named Ravens’ Breakout Candidate

Letting Patrick Queen walk in 2024 NFL free agency broke up the heartbeat of the Baltimore Ravens’ defense, but his replacement, Trenton Simpson, is the team’s best breakout candidate.

That’s according to Bradley Locker of Pro Football Focus, who believes “If Baltimore wants to repeat its strong defensive efforts from 2023, Simpson will be tasked with stepping up.”

It’s a daunting task, but Simpson showed plenty of promise last season, despite brief exposure as a rookie: “Simpson played only 49 snaps in 2023 but was effective, earning a 76.3 overall grade as well as a 77.4 coverage grade.”

Simpson’s range and athleticism will need to show up more often this season if he’s going to recreate Queen’s feared partnership with fellow inside linebacker Roquan Smith. That would make using a 2023 third-round draft pick to add a player at what was already a position of strength look like a masterstroke in foresight by Ravens’ general manager Eric DeCosta.

Trenton Simpson Primed for Bigger Role

Queen joining the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency has left Simpson primed for a bigger role. The former Clemson standout has the raw physical tools to be up to the task.

Simpson’s game is built on speed, something he shares with another ex-Clemson star turned Ravens draft pick, Nate Wiggins. The cornerback selected 30th overall this year ran the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds at the Scouting Combine, while Simpson clocked 4.43 seconds in 2023, per The Baltimore Banner’s Jonas Shaffer.

This kind of speed is rare for a linebacker. It shows Simpson can be an asset in space, particularly in coverage.

Simpson’s rapid takeoff and downhill quickness also make him a factor on the blitz. He proved it with his maiden sack in the pros, ironically notched against the Steelers in Week 18.

First career sack for Trenton Simpson❗❗

Tune in on ABC/ESPN! pic.twitter.com/1sh9pCoOHq

— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 6, 2024

The Steelers got a measure of revenge by signing Queen, but the latter has already given his replacement a seal of approval.

Patrick Queen Has Endorsed His Replacement

Queen is confident the Ravens have the right player to replace him without skipping a beat. The veteran was full of praise for Simpson after the rookie thrived against the Steelers.

That wasn’t the end of Queen talking up Simpson. Back in March, shortly after signing with the Steelers, Queen posted on X: “Gone be a dawg!” in response to a picture of Simpson.

One of the replies prompted Queen to double down: “Give him time to gel in with the league. He gone be that guy.”

Queen isn’t the only believer in Simpson’s upward trajectory. Fellow dynamic middle linebacker Smith is also a fan.

The two-time first-team All-Pro has tabbed Simpson to become “the best second-year LB in the NFL,” according to Shaffer.

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Roquan Smith’s nickname for Trenton Simpson is “Simp.”

He also thinks he can be the best second-year LB in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/kY9ap8iLcc

— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) April 17, 2024

That’s a lot of hype for a 22-year-old who has a mere 46 regular season snaps to his credit, per Pro Football Reference. Simpson also faces a demanding role replicating Queen’s multi-faceted workload.

A 6-foot, 232-pounder, Queen could act as thumper against the run, be aggressive on the blitz and agile enough to handle tricky coverage assignments. His versatility was key to what the Ravens do defensively.

It will be prudent for new defensive coordinator Zach Orr to find ways to protect 238-pound Simpson. Keeping blockers off him will allow Simpson to use his sideline-to-sideline range to impact every phase of offenses and live up to the breakout label.

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