Baltimore Ravens

Instant analysis: With trade for Yannick Ngakoue, talented Ravens defense has a new edge

The Ravens have traded for Minnesota Vikings defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, fortifying their pass rush ahead of a crucial stretch in their schedule.

The Ravens sent a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick to the Vikings for Ngakoue, according to ESPN. Ngakoue, a Bowie native and former Maryland star, is expected to be ready for the Ravens' Week 8 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.


Here’s where what The Baltimore Sun’s sports staff thinks of the trade:

Childs Walker, reporter: Eric DeCosta doesn’t settle for patching weaknesses but instead builds on existing strengths. The Ravens already had one of the best pass defenses in the league, but DeCosta understood that some of their sack and pressure numbers were probably inflated because they’ve played terrible offensive lines the past two weeks. So he targeted a pass rusher who gets to the quarterback, no matter the circumstances. The Ravens don’t need Yannick Ngakoue to dominate on every snap. They can use him as a specialist, the overpowering relief pitcher added for a postseason push. With him in the fold, they’ll generate pressure when rushing four. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s blitzes will become more luxury than necessity. Ngakoue is the perfect adornment to a defense that was already performing well.


Mike Preston, columnist: If the Ravens want to take the next step and become a really good defense, they have to get pressure from their front four instead of relying on constant blitzes. Maybe Yannick Ngakoue is the answer on the edge, along with Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell inside. If not, he is at least worth the risk for what it took to get him here.

Jonas Shaffer, reporter: The Ravens got better Thursday, and not at great expense. Maybe more importantly, they became a tougher defense for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to solve. The bar isn’t high, not after Kansas City went for 500-plus yards for the second straight season in Week 3. But if Kansas City has struggled with anything since Mahomes' ascent, it’s defenses that need only a four-man pass rush to generate pressure. The Ravens should have the secondary to keep a lid on the Chiefs' wide receivers. (Stopping tight end Travis Kelce is another matter.) After blitzing Mahomes over and over and not sacking him once on “Monday Night Football,” the Ravens had to change things up before a potential rematch.

Daniel Oyefusi, reporter: When the story of Eric DeCosta’s tenure as Ravens general manager is written, the word “bashful” will be nowhere to be found. One year after acquiring cornerback Marcus Peters to transform the team’s secondary, DeCosta landed defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, giving an already stout defense the edge it might need to surpass the Kansas City Chiefs. It’ll be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s blitz-happy philosophy changes — or doesn’t — with Ngakoue, who immediately becomes the team’s best pass rusher. The Ravens' front office clearly sees a window to win a championship while quarterback Lamar Jackson is on his rookie contract. They’re not letting a 5-1 start lull them into a sense of complacency.

C.J. Doon, editor: Eric DeCosta sees his window of opportunity to win a Super Bowl with this Ravens roster. Ngakoue has five sacks in six games, though his 11% pass-rush win rate as an edge player ranks 32nd out of 47 qualifiers this season, according to ESPN. Still, he’s immensely talented and just 25 years old. Don “Wink” Martindale will find a way to get the most out of the former Terp with his pressure-focused scheme.