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NFL Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens: Top 5 Impact Defenders For 2013 Season

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Baltimore Ravens: Top 5 Impact Defenders For 2013 Season

Mitch Stringer - USA Today Sports

When the Baltimore Ravens take the field in the 2013 season, they will feature a defense that many in the organization expect to be faster and stronger than in recent years, which is saying something considering the elite defenses the Ravens have put out.

There are so many angles to look for in the Ravens' defense since Ray Lewis retired and Ed Reed decided to part ways. When the Ravens let Paul Kruger walk, they signed Elvis Dumervil. The Ravens added depth along the defensive line with Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, who are expected to improve a run defense that allowed 122.8 yards per game.

We also should not be overlooking the signing of Steve Spagnuolo, who is now signed as the Ravens' senior defensive assistant. He likes what he has seen in the pass rush department and remembers his former team.

“Defensively, wow,” Spagnuolo noted via baltimoreravens.com. “I had little visions of the Giants' front that I happened to be privileged to be working with.”

It may be too soon to put the current unit in that regard, but the Ravens have their own standards which have been higher than any team in the league over the last 14 years given the fact that they usually carried the burden of lifting the team emotionally and physically as the face of the franchise.

So with Lewis and Reed gone, who can the Ravens look to over the next few seasons as the leaders on defense? Let's take a look.

Wola Odeniran is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter at WolaOdeniran52.

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5. Matt Elam

Evan Habeeb - USA Today Sports

A lot is expected out of Matt Elam with Reed gone. However, Elam is not expected to take Reed's spot. Michael Huff will play free safety, while Elam will play strong safety. But at the end of the day, Elam will be the face of the safety unit for the Ravens. Even though Elam is a rookie, he has a lot of promise. His ability to cover and play in the box will provide value the Ravens never had with Bernard Pollard. It also gives the Ravens the ability to mix and match, having Huff and Elam switch roles in pass coverage.

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4. Lardarius Webb

Evan Habeeb - USA Today Sports

Lardarius Webb getting back healthy is an underrated aspect for the Ravens that should not go unnoticed in the media. I know Cary Williams left, but Webb has always been the Ravens' best corner when healthy. If Webb can get back to what he was in 2011, the changes on defense from 2012 entering 2013 shouldn't be a tough one.

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3. Elvis Dumervil

Evan Habeeb - USA Today Sports

The Ravens let Kruger go and went on to sign Dumervil. It's really interesting how Kruger has become the bigger name of the two despite Dumervil having a better track record. I have a always been a fan of Kruger, but his departure is part of the hype of the Ravens letting go of multiple starters. Dumervil was signed to a five-year deal worth $35 million this offseason and is expected to start. The former Denver Bronco is not known to be stout against the run, but if he can be stout enough in running situations, his pass rush combined with Suggs can form the most devastating bookends in franchise history. It would certainly give the bookends of Peter Boulware and Suggs for the Ravens in 2003 a run for their money.

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2. Terrell Suggs

Evan Habeeb - USA Today Sports

Suggs is expected to become the vocal leader on the Ravens' defense now that Lewis is gone. But more importantly, he will need retain the physical strength in setting the edge if the Ravens want to improve on a defense last season that allowed 4.0 yards per carry, which is the highest in franchise history. If Suggs can remain healthy, opposing offensive tackles need to look out.

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1. Haloti Ngata

David Butler II - USA Today Sports

If Ngata doesn't play well, the Ravens are most likely in trouble. When people say everything starts up front in the NFL, look no further than Ngata. The Ravens are expected to move Ngata around more than usual this season along the defensive front with a little more playing time at nose tackle in the Ravens' 3-4 scheme. You could very well make the case that the Ravens' success on defense starts with Ngata.