Christian Gardner checks into Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor(ous Rex’s) value.
Two thoughts immediately popped into my head when I read the suggestion to check into Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor.
The first thought is the perfect nickname, ‘Onwuasoraus Rex.’ (Editor’s Note: Since I have never heard of this nickname yet, I dub Christian the owner of all copyrights!)
When a player starts performing out of his mind, or beyond their value, a friend and I will only refer to that player by their nickname when talking to each other. A linebacker nicknamed after an apex predator killing machine works for me.
However, I admitted in my head knowing very little about Onwuasor is my second thought. His last name is pronounced ON-WOO-SAUR, or ON-WOO-A-SAUR-AUS REX if you’re going to run with the nickname.
Now, can Onwuasor live up to the deadly ‘Onwuasoraus Rex’ nickname? Is the O-Rex a predatory tackling machine primed to ascend to the height of the high-performing linebacker food chain, while providing value?
What About His Value?
Onwuasor, 25, is currently starting on the weak-side of the Ravens’ 3-4 base and will be playing next to CJ Mosley. The Portland State product signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent after the 2016 draft. In March, he inked a non-guaranteed one-year $630K deal and is a listed six-feet tall with a weight ranging from 217 to 227 pounds.
The O-Rex started 13 games last year and put up a handful of solid stat lines. The highlight of his IDP season came in Week 11 against Green Bay. Onwuasor logged eight solo tackles, two assisted tackles and a fumble recovery.
A consistency emerges looking over Onwuasor’s 2017 stat lines. The linebacker did not record fewer than three solo tackles in any of his 13 starts. In the games he started, Onwuasor averaged nearly five tackles per game. In Weeks 13 and 16 he registered six solo tackles. Most importantly, O-Rex did not hang any zeros on the fantasy scoreboard. The Raven finished the season with 65 solo tackles, a sack and one forced fumble.
Playing Time Threats
Baltimore Sun reporter Edward Lee uses an interchangeable word for consistency in this December article. Lee discusses the stability Onwuasor offers the team. Lee then goes on to quote Ravens’ Defensive Coordinator, Dean Pees.
“The thing about Patrick is, he’s fast, he can run,” Pees said. “He still has a lot of things to learn, as far as the linebackers, as far as keying, as far as blitzing, things like that, even some of his drops sometimes. But what he does, he does 100 miles per hour, which is what we like.”
But scanning the team’s defensive depth chart raises concern. That concern is supported after coming across an article on the Ravens’ website from Garrett Downing. The article discusses the possible emergence of Kamalei Correa
Also entering his third NFL season, the former second-round pick looks to carve out a role on the Baltimore defense. Head coach John Harbaugh discussed Correa’s versatility as a strength if to challenge Onwuasor’s hold on the starting position. Also notable is the fact that Correa entered the 2017 regular season starting in front of Onwuasor.
Another threat to Onwuasor’s playing time is Kenny Young. The Ravens drafted Young, who led the UCLA Bruins in tackles with 110, in the fourth round. However, Young is a stronger coverage linebacker who could take time to adjust to the pro level.
Another approach the Ravens may take is to add more competition to challenge Onwuasor, as this Baltimore Sun minicamp preview rather harshly suggests. The blurb refers to the position next to Mosley as a gaping hole existing on defense.
“Surely the Ravens will look to bring in a veteran for training camp, at least for competition,” the nugget finishes.
Too Soon for the Nickname?
Onwuasoraus Rex might be too strong of a nickname.
The third-year linebacker produces consistent numbers and that trend should continue in 2018. However the threats to his job security are real, and the linebacker will have to produce, avoid mistakes and hold off a vet should the Ravens bring one into camp to compete at the position.
Projecting him as a late-round flier and deep sleeper is fine. Expecting him to produce a little more than his current draft position seems like a safe bet.
Follow Christian Gardner on twitter @gardner_rake!