Calais Campbell has known Yannick Ngakoue a lot longer than Campbell has been a Raven. But with the former Jacksonville Jaguars teammates now reunited in Baltimore, he has no doubt about the fit.
“What it means to be a Raven, he possesses that,” Campbell, a first-year Raven himself, said Monday. “He loves the game of football.”
The Ravens traded a 2021 third-round draft pick and 2022 conditional fifth-round pick Thursday to Minnesota for Ngakoue, one of the league’s top pass rushers since he was drafted in 2016. The former Maryland standout spent three seasons with Campbell in Jacksonville before the Jaguars traded him to the Vikings before this season.
Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens will “just plug him in” on their top-ranked scoring defense. If Ngakoue clears COVID-19 protocols, he’s expected to practice Wednesday. Harbaugh said he’s already started learning the Ravens' game plan for Sunday’s game against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Adding a player like Yannick is huge,” Harbaugh said in a video conference call. “It’s a big positive for us.”
Harbaugh said the Ravens still have to evaluate Ngakoue’s execution of their defensive schemes, but he indicated that his arrival wouldn’t fundamentally change the team’s defense.
Campbell, whom Ngakoue reached out to shortly after being traded, said the Bowie native is “like a brother to me.” Ngakoue is set to become a free agent after this season, but Campbell said “this place is perfect for him.”
“I hope this really works out for him here and he can be a long-time Raven, because this place, it really is special,” he said. "He’s probably one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met. He watches a lot of tape. He’s always first in line, running sprints as hard as he can, gets to the ball. When they say, ‘Lead the league in effort,’ he’s definitely going to be an effort guy. You see it when you watch his tape; he’s a high-motor guy.
“The coaching staff here, the organization, they’re going to allow him to be himself and to flourish. So I feel like this is going to be a great place for him. I’m really excited for him.”