Ravens rookie ILB Patrick Queen is not intimidated by high expectations
Outside of the occasional developmental prospect at the quarterback position that is uber-talented but needs to sit behind a veteran for a season or two, nearly all first-round picks are expected to come in and contribute right away by becoming immediate difference-makers for their respective teams. In the case of Baltimore Ravens’ first-round inside linebacker Patrick Queen, who they selected 28th overall out of LSU, the expectations for his rookie season are sky-high.
Queen has been called Ray Lewis Jr by his new quarterback and reigning league MVP, Lamar Jackson, and mentioned by analysts and members of the media as one of the early front runners to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Despite hitting the field as a member of the Ravens for the first time just last week, he is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker for the Ravens this year and have an instant impact. Ordinarily, such lofty expectations would make most first-year players a little anxious, but not Queen. He doesn’t view it as much of a challenge as some prognosticators do and he is actually looking forward to the opportunity to prove himself at the NFL level.
“It’s not challenging. It’s exciting. It’s a great feeling to be able to embrace what you’re been working for your entire life,” Queen said. “You can only imagine the dream of being in this position, and it’s a position that I want to take full advantage of. I want to be the best player that I can become.”
Queen has already been able to build chemistry with many of the veteran players that he will be playing with through virtual meetings and in the limited time that they have spent together in the building. He strong communication will be the key to a smooth transition for him to the pro level
“It’s been going very smooth, just being with some of the older guys and some of the new guys,” Queen said. “We’re all just communicating very, very well. That’s the biggest part that’s helping me. The more you talk on the field the better you are.”
He will be surrounded by a plethora of elite veteran talent both in the trenches and in the backend of Baltimore’s defense. Upfront in the interior of the defensive line he will have players like defensive end Calais Campbell, nose tackle Brandon ‘Big Baby’ Williams and defensive tackle Derek Wolfe occupying blockers to allow him to make plays at and behind the line of scrimmage. Behind him, he’ll have the deepest and most talented secondary in the league made up of players like Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Tavon Young at cornerback with Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark at safety.
Queen is just the latest in a recent string of supremely gifted off-ball linebackers to come out of Death Valley for the Tigers and he’s reached out to some of his fellow LSU alum that proceeded him and has had success at the NFL level for guidance on what to expect as a rookie.
He was recently a part of a three-way facetime call between himself, his running mate in the middle in 2019 Jacob Phillips who was drafted Queen’s division rival Cleveland Browns in the third round of this year’s draft, and 2019 top-five pick Devin White of the Tampa bay Buccaneers.
“We all sat there and talked about what we expect, and we leaned on Devin,” said Queen. “He told us what he did his first year in the league. Even though he got hurt, he had pretty amazing stats going into the end of the year.”
“I try to take up everything I can from him. Just to see what he did going into his first year made me very proud as the little bro to him and I’m just excited just to be able to compete against him in the league.”
White made the kind of smooth transition to the pro level as a rookie last season that Queen is hoping to have this year. In 13 games he recorded 91 total tackles, three forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits, three pass deflections, and four fumble recoveries—two of which he returned for touchdowns. If the Ravens’ first-round pick can make a similar kind of immediate impact for his team as a rookie as White did for the Bucs, Queen will have lived up to his high expectations and then some.