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.
Historically, the Ravens have valued production over potential in their evaluation process for NFL Draft. However, over the past couple of years, General Manager Eric DeCosta has been willing to select prospects with elite traits and a higher ceiling but not necessarily prolific production at the collegiate level.
Minnesota’s Boye Mafe isn’t coming off a zero-sack final season like Odafe Oweh did coming in 2020, in fact, he recorded a career-high seven sacks in 2021. Even though he never reached the double-digit threshold and finished with a total 15 in four years, his potential to become a dangerous pass rusher at the next level is extremely high.
Ever since the former Golden Gopher showed up and showed out at the week of practice leading up to the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl as well as the game itself, his draft stock has been on a steady rise. He followed up a dominant week of practice with and two-sack performance in the all-star game.
Minnesota edge Boye Mafe at the Senior Bowl (per @PFF):— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) February 8, 2022
Practice: 92.6 pass-rush grade, 45% win rate
Game: 94.5 pass-rush grade, 41% win rate
now that's seizing the opportunity pic.twitter.com/ySsTjW49rp
He has gone from a day two projection to fringe first-rounder and is now even generating Top-20 buzz, thanks in large part to his rare athletic profile. He tested off the charts at the NFL scouting combine and boasts a legendary Relative Athletic Score.
Boye Mafe is a DE prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 9.91 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 14 out of 1428 DE from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/qrORLvPHXn #RAS pic.twitter.com/aN7CkRV0FA— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 25, 2022
His explosiveness and power around the edge allow him to get up the field and turn the corner quickly on offensive tackles on their vertical sets. Also, absolutely ragdoll tight ends left to block him one-on-one.
While he wasn’t always consistent with his rush in college and showed the occasional false step when taking, the flashes of dominance proved that with refinement, he could be a true difference-maker in the NFL.
Mafe has great backside pursuit and slides well laterally with long strides to eliminate cutback lanes. His an ability to quickly disengage from blocks and engulf ball carriers in his 81.5-inch wingspan is impressive. Coupled with his functional play strength and range to cover a lot of ground in a hurry, he can be an every-down defender that can consistently make plays in the run game.
Boye Mafe (#34) is very fundamentally sound against the run… stays square, squeezes, wins cross face on flow and makes the stop. As he continues to develop, he has the tools to be an every down difference maker. pic.twitter.com/9Z6RkfIz5J— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) February 27, 2022
First-year Ravens’ defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald coached David Ojabo and presumptive No. 1 overall pick, Aidan Hutchison, to career-best years at Michigan in 2021 . He put them in the best positions to utilize their elite traits. Under his influence, a player of Mafe’s physical tools and athleticism could truly flourish.
While No. 14 overall is a little too high of a pick to spend on a gifted yet developmental prospect, in a trade-back scenario, he’d be a much better value in the early or mid-20s. The Ravens love selecting players that they got a chance to watch and coach at the Senior Bowl and Mafe could be the latest high-upside edge rusher added to the list, joining the likes of Matthew Judon and Za’Darius Smith.