After signing two free agent defensive linemen, the Ravens appear to have a surplus of players up front but still a glaring hole at inside linebacker.
One potential solution would be moving one of those defensive linemen to inside linebacker, and that's apparently what the Ravens plan to do with Bryan Hall.
Hall appeared as a backup defensive tackle in five games this past season in his first NFL action. The Ravens signed Hall out of Arkansas State as an undrafted free agent in 2011, and he spent all that season on the practice squad.
Hall told BaltimoreRavens.com that coach John Harbaugh texted Hall a few weeks back to ask him about the possibility of making the move.
“I was like, ‘Oh man, it’s whatever, Coach. I’m a football player first. I’m down for it," he said.
At 6-0 and 291 pounds, he was considered undersized at defensive tackle. But that's a good 50 pounds heavier than Ray Lewis or Jameel McClain or Dannell Ellerbe, who started at inside linebacker last season for the Ravens. Inside linebackers in the Ravens scheme must be able to stuff the run, but also must be able to pursue receivers laterally, and Hall is going to have to shed some of that weight to do that effectively.
According to the Ravens Web site, he's already lost more than 20 pounds, and he sees an opportunity at inside linebacker that might not exist on the defensive line.
The Ravens already return Haloti Ngata and Terence Cody in the interior of the line, and have added versatile defensive linemen Chris Canty and Marcus Spears in free agency. At inside linebacker, though, the Ravens have lost Lewis to retirement and Ellerbe to free agency, and McClain is coming back from a spinal injury that leaves his outlook questionable. Brendon Ayanbadejo, who also started at times at inside linebacker last season, has been released.
In other words, the competition at inside linebacker appears to be wide open, with Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan among the leading contenders. Hall, who said as a child he dreamed of playing linebacker in the NFL, is ready for his chance.
"I’m always down for a challenge," he told the Ravens Web site. "I think they know that. With the opportunity ahead to possibly play and contribute more than I did last year, it’s huge.”