- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Baltimore Ravens mean business, bolstering an already impressive defense with the addition of edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings, the team announced Thursday.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens sent the Vikings a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick.

Ngakoue starred at Maryland and was drafted by Jacksonville in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. With the Jaguars for four seasons, the 25-year-old recorded 37.5 sacks and 14 forced fumbles. He joined Minnesota this offseason in a trade and promptly logged five sacks, 12 tackles and two forced fumbles across six games.

But with the Vikings in the basement of the NFC North — sitting in last place at 1-5 — and the Ravens pushing for an advantage in the competitive AFC North, Ngakoue joins a defense that has allowed the second fewest points of any team so far this season.

Also, according to Pro Football Reference, the Ravens lead the league in quarterback knockdowns (28) and are second in sacks (22). Those numbers only seem poised to improve with Ngakoue’s addition.

At 5-1 and battling with the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and a 4-2 Cleveland Browns squad, Baltimore now has multiple pass rushing talents. Matt Judon, another edge rusher, has two sacks and 18 total tackles this season. And Ngakoue reunites with his former Jacksonville teammate Calais Campbell, who has four sacks and 21 total tackles so far this year.

“We are excited to add Yannick Ngakoue to our football team,” general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement. “Yannick is someone who we are very familiar with going back to the draft process years ago. He is an exciting player and a dangerous pass rusher who makes us better.”

At Maryland, Ngakoue set a single-season sack record with 13.5 in 2015. The Bowie, Maryland, native finished second in the country that season with 1.13 sacks per game, giving him a platform to leave College Park a year early for the draft.

Ngakoue’s time with the Jaguars soured ahead of his fourth season with the team, as he held out for a short time from training camp in search of a new long-term deal. That didn’t come, and he returned in 2019 to put together an impressive season (his 13 tackles-for-loss tied his career high, on top of eight sacks).

The 6-foot-2, 246-pound lineman asked for a trade this past offseason after Jacksonville placed the franchise tag on him. That came about in late August, when the Vikings sent a 2021 second-round pick and a conditional 2022 fifth-round pick the other way to secure the top-tier rusher.

Now, only six games into the season, Ngakoue has a new team, returning to Maryland to play for the Ravens.

“Yannick grew up here,” DeCosta said. “He’s the type of person we welcome in our building. Finally, we are not finished building this team, as we continue to chase our ultimate goals.”

As DeCosta hinted at, Baltimore may still add further pieces to a team led by Lamar Jackson, one of the most electric quarterbacks in the league. According to the NFL Network, former Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant could join the Ravens’ practice squad.


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