Zachary Orr’s short lived NFL career will probably go unnoticed by many fans that aren’t connected with the Baltimore Ravens. Which is unfortunate, because he was on his way to being a star before an early retirement. Orr was an undrafted linebacker from North Texas who started one season for Baltimore. During that one season, though, Ravens fans fell hard for this future stud.
He finishes his career with 162 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, and 3 interceptions. Of those career stats, all but 30 tackles and his lone sack came during the 2016 season.
Before the 2016 season, the inside linebacker position next to C.J. Mosley was a huge question mark.
Many fans and draft analysts called for Baltimore to draft Myles Jack with the no. 6 pick to pair with Mosley. After the draft, many people envisioned Kamalei Correa would step into the void. Others wanted to see Daryl Smith back in a Ravens uniform for at least one more year.
But, none of that happened. Instead, Orr rose through the depth chart and started 15 games, led the defense in tackles (132), and accounted for 6 turnovers. His play stood out every time he was on the field this season. I consistently found myself writing about Orr’s play in my “What I Liked” sections of my weekly Ravens Recaps.
Baltimore’s inside linebackers of the future were being viewed as a major strong point for the defense. C.J. Mosley was selected for his second Pro Bowl, and Orr certainly proved he would belong there soon.
Inside linebacker was nowhere near the top of the list in terms of this upcoming off-season’s needs. Now, it should be at least in the top five. And it’s not higher simply because of Kamalei Correa already being on the roster.
But, as we all know, Orr was forced into early retirement at the age of 24 due to a congenital spine/neck condition that had been previously undiscovered until a neck stinger he suffered in his final NFL game.
Orr’s presence in Baltimore this past year was felt at his retirement press conference with HC John Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome, and DC Dean Pees speaking with him to the press.
All three speakers talked about the effect Orr has had on this team, how great of a player he is, and how much of a loss this is for Baltimore’s defense.
What was also shown was how strong of a person Orr is. He had finally tasted what it was like to start in the NFL. And he proved the sky was the limit for his potential. In an instant that was taken from him, and his positivity through his situation spoke volumes about his character.
He consistently spoke about being grateful for his opportunities, even though they were limited. Instead of complaining about his misfortune, he focused on the future.
He has a bright future ahead of him, and he will always be remembered in Baltimore for his 2016 performance.