2013 NFL Breakout Candidate: Baltmore Ravens' Courtney Upshaw

By Lucas Carreras
Courtney Upshaw Baltimore Ravens
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

After the high of winning the Super Bowl, the Baltimore Ravens lost several key players either to retirement or free agency, especially on defense.

Luckily for the Ravens, they should be able to overcome the losses of player personnel especially at the linebacker position, as the likes of Courtney Upshaw will now get their chance to become a starter and pick up where the departed left off.

Drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Upshaw was seen as a great value pick by the Ravens given they got him with the 35th overall pick. In his rookie season, he was not expected to be much of a contributor for as he was behind the likes of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger.

As a result of injuries to Lewis and Suggs, Upshaw ended up seeing more playing time than anticipated in a season that ended with him forcing a fumble in the Super Bowl.

Now entering the 2013 season, he will not only be a starter, and is expected to be a mainstay on the Ravens’ defense.

Upshaw had issues with his weight during OTAs, and one has to wonder if this will impact him and his preparation during training camp. While his weight might be a concern now, this does not take away from his athletic ability as Upshaw is able to overpower opposing linemen. Expect an increase of his 1.5 sacks from his rookie season.

Upshaw showed flashes of what he is capable of in 2012 and now that he will be a starter, expect him to take the next stride in his development. Since the drafting of Lewis, the Ravens have not lacked having quality All-Pro linebackers. In 2013, Upshaw will break out and make the claim that he is next in line of being mentioned amongst that vaunted group.

Lucas Carreras is a contributing NFL writer to RantSports.com. You can follow Lucas on Twitter by following him @maldini3fan and you can add him to your circles on Google+.

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