With the initial craze of free agency now behind us, it is time to look forward to the 2022 NFL Draft. The Baltimore Ravens currently have 10 picks, including the No. 14 overall pick — their highest since drafting All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the No. 6 overall pick in 2016.
For the first time in what feels like franchise history, wide receiver isn’t widely viewed as the team’s top need on their offseason to-do list. However, one of their under-the-radar priorities is at tight end where they need a complementary pass-catching threat at the position to take some of the attention away from First-Team All-Pro Mark Andrews.
One prospect that can come in and fill the role that the Ravens have been trying to fill since trading away Hayden Hurst in the 2020 offseason from day one is Ohio State’s, Jeremy Ruckert.
The former Buckeye didn’t have prolific production in college but that wasn’t because of a lack of talent. Ruckert was surrounded by one of the best and deepest wide receiver depth charts in the country during his time in Columbus, which limited his opportunities to consistently make an impact as a pass-catcher. In his four years, he has played with the likes of Terry McLaurin, Paris Campbell, and K.J. Hill who are already in the NFL, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave who should be first-round picks this year, and Jaxson Smith-Njigba who will likely be a first-round pick next year.
Despite not having a bevy of targets come his way, Ruckert made the most of the ones that did get thrown in his general vicinity. He caught 12 touchdowns in his last 25 games and recorded career highs in receptions (26), receiving yards (309), and yards per catch (11.9) in seasons where he appeared in at least five games.
Ruckert possesses great hands, dangerous run after the catch ability, and underrated route-running skill. The threat he presents over the middle and down the field as a seam-stretcher is exactly what the Ravens need to work in tandem with Andrews or even step up in case of an injury.
He has the ability to make plays and come up with clutch grabs in traffic or with a defender tight in coverage. His body control, agility, and ability to high-point the ball will make him a dangerous and potent target in the red zone.
JUSTIN FIELDS AND HIS BROKEN RIBS FINDS JEREMY RUCKERT AGAIN! OHIO STATE IS UP 21 AT HALFTIME! pic.twitter.com/fWNALWpXsW— Barstool OSU (@BarstoolOSU) January 2, 2021
We’re never going to stop watching this.— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 8, 2019
Jeremy Ruckert. Insanity. pic.twitter.com/KCTw5oKtU4
As a blocker, Ruckert isn’t quite peak-performance Nick Boyle but he is still rock-solid and aggressive in both run blocking and pass protection. He is capable of taking on defensive ends and linebackers, destroys defensive backs at the second and third level, and sustains his blocks with good leverage.
Jeremy Ruckert handling George Karlaftis. Whew. pic.twitter.com/lwvmQECQzH— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) February 17, 2022
While he may never develop into an All-Pro or perennial Pro Bowler at the position, Ruckert has all the tools to stand out at the next level and would thrive in tight end centric offense like the Ravens, where heavy 12 and even 13 personnel are used frequently. He is capable of lining up at multiple spots including in-line as a Y, in the backfield as an H, or the slot/out-wide as an F. He is projected to come off the board somewhere late on day two of the draft and would be well worth one of the Ravens’ two third-round picks.