Reviewing Ravens’ rookie class after 2021 season - Luke Jones
G Ben Cleveland
Draft position: Third round, 94th overall
Offensive snaps: 367 over 12 games
Synopsis: A concussion cost the 6-foot-6, 357-pound lineman valuable practice time over the summer and a knee injury landed him on injured reserve for several weeks during the regular season, but Cleveland started the final four contests of the 2021 campaign in place of the injured Ben Powers and probably played his best in the season finale against Pittsburgh. The University of Georgia product will still need to win the left guard job this coming summer with the likes of Powers and Tyre Phillips still in the mix, but he’s the early favorite to start if he can complete a healthy spring and summer to improve his footwork and technique.
S Brandon Stephens
Draft position: Third round, 104th overall
Defensive snaps: 744 over 17 games
Synopsis: Injuries to starting safety DeShon Elliott led to Stephens playing more snaps than any Baltimore rookie, but his 11 starts were the mixed bag you’d expect from someone playing a new position after only transitioning to cornerback upon transferring to Southern Methodist in 2019. Though the 6-foot-1, 213-pound defensive back ranked third on the team with 78 tackles, his four pass breakups were underwhelming when considering how often opponents threw against the Baltimore defense. Stephens flashed enough to be optimistic about his second season, but the question is whether the Ravens believe he’ll be ready to step into a starting safety role or view his best fit as a big nickel or dime option. His positional versatility and the immense overall struggles in the secondary would seem to support the latter projection. For what it’s worth, PFF graded Stephens 85th out of 94 qualified safeties.
ALL SET, THANKS!
Lamar Jackson won a unanimous MVP award in his second season and likely secured himself a long-term career with Baltimore — injury notwithstanding — at that point. This season wasn’t a good year for him, with injury limiting him to just 12 games. And even when he was out there, his grades badly tailed off as the season progressed. Even still, the Ravens’ entire offense is built around his unique skills, and that’s not changing anytime soon.
Ravens going big early? Getting help on both the offensive and defensive front would be good start - Jeff Zrebiec
Brugler has the Ravens using the No. 14 overall pick on Georgia defensive tackle Travon Walker. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive lineman was a standout for the national champions, finishing the season with 6 sacks and 7 1/2 tackles for loss.
He then has the Ravens using their second-round pick at No. 45 overall on Ohio State offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound redshirt junior was a two-year starter for the Buckeyes.
The Ravens have lacked a consistent interior pass rush for several years and it’s limited the defense’s ability to create pressure with its front four. In three seasons for Georgia, Walker has 9 1/2 sacks in 32 games. He’s expected to be a dominant run defender at the next level, but he also has projectable pass-rush traits. He’s explosive and gets off the ball quickly and plays with physicality and force.
Petit-Frere was once the No. 1 offensive tackle recruit in the country. It didn’t come easy and immediately for him at Ohio State, but he turned in two strong seasons for the Buckeyes, starting 20 total games and excelling at both right and left tackle.
He’s big with an ability and desire to finish in the run game. He’s also extremely athletic for a lineman of his size and proved a nice fit blocking in Ohio State’s zone-heavy run scheme.
Iowa Center Linked to Ravens in First Round of NFL Draft - Todd Karpovich
The Ravens will take Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum with the 14th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper.
“Injuries decimated the Baltimore roster in 2021, but center Bradley Bozeman had a solid season,” Kiper wrote. “The problem? He’s now a free agent and could get more money on the open market. The Ravens could turn to the draft for his replacement, and if Linderbaum is on the board at No. 14, they would upgrade. Linderbaum is pro-ready right now — he already has great technique and is already a great run and pass blocker. This one makes a ton of sense.
“Barring significant injuries again, Baltimore is well-positioned for another playoff run in 2022. It needs to keep Lamar Jackson clean in the pocket, and Linderbaum will certainly help there.”
Linderbaum, 6-foot-3, 291 pounds, was a two-time all-Big Ten first-team selection, a unanimous All-American, Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, and the Rimington Trophy winner, which is awarded to the nation’s top center.
2022 NFL Mock Draft: Kayvon Thibodeaux falls to Falcons, Giants take top-five QB, six receivers go in Round 1 - Chris Trapasso
Round 1 - Pick 14
CINCINNATI • JR • 6’2” / 188 LBS
Gardner is the smooth, no-nonsense cornerback the Ravens will love to add to their man-heavy defense.