The Ravens shifted their approach at WR. It might be time to do the same at defensive line - Jeff Zrebiec
The Ravens haven’t selected a defensive lineman before the third round since 2014. In the previous four drafts, their investment in their defensive line has included one third-round pick, two fifth-rounders and a seventh-rounder. Two of those four players have long departed the organization.
The Ravens have lacked a consistent interior pass-rush presence for years. Last year, they got all of 5 1/2 total sacks out of their interior defensive linemen with Madubuike leading the group with two. While they often have edge guys move inside in sub packages, the Ravens haven’t had a “true” interior defensive lineman get more than five sacks in a season since Haloti Ngata had 5 1/2 in 2010.
Getting pressure with the front four and keeping more guys back in coverage has become crucial in playing defense in the pass-happy NFL. That’s why edge rushers are annually coveted, but that no longer seems to be enough. Every team at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week is looking for their own version of Aaron Donald.
The other question is are the Ravens prioritizing the wrong things with their defensive linemen? The Ravens’ defensive philosophy has always been to stop the run first. When the Ravens signed Williams to a five-year, $54 million deal, he was temporarily the highest-paid nose tackle in the sport. That deal drew plenty of scrutiny over the years because Williams has never had more than two sacks in an NFL season.
Trevor Penning’s Nasty Edge Could Play Well in Baltimore - Clifton Brown
Trevor Penning doesn’t apologize for competing with a mean streak. He grates on opponents and it’s absolutely intentional. If the Ravens draft Penning to fortify their offensive line, you get the feeling he will relish playing in the rugged AFC North.
“Teams that want that kind of nasty edge? It’s a huge part of my game,” Penning said at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“You want to make the defender across from you feel it. You want him at the end of the day to be exhausted. He wants to get on that flight, get the hell out of there.
“I think it’s just a switch you’ve got to have to play football. Especially the offensive line. Playing very nasty, I believe, is how O-line has to be played. You want to make that guy across from you hate to go against you. You want to see the fear in his eyes.”
“He’s huge,” Jeremiah said. “They just love collecting big human beings. You can go all the way to (Jonathan) Ogden, to Zeus (Orlando Brown Sr.), to Zeus Jr. (Orlando Brown Jr.) Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, we could go on forever. They love big dudes. This is a big powerful guy, who in the run game can just move people.”
2022 NFL scouting combine guide: How to watch prospects from Maryland and potential Ravens targets in Indianapolis - C.J. Doon
Ravens targets to watch
Left tackle — Mississippi State’s Charles Cross: Combine drills will showcase Cross’ agility and change-of-direction skills, though he still needs to prove he has the power to thrive as a run blocker.
Right tackle — Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele: The 6-8, 387-pound Faalele is far from a can’t-miss prospect, but there’s also no one in this draft quite like him.
Defensive end — Georgia’s Travon Walker: His middling pass-rush production (five sacks) doesn’t reflect his immense potential, which he could validate with a headline-grabbing performance.
Strong-side outside linebacker — Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson II: With impressive numbers in speed and agility testing, Johnson could convince a few more teams that he has first-round pass-rushing talent.
Weak-side outside linebacker — Michigan’s David Ojabo: If his measurables are impressive enough for teams to overlook his inconsistent edge setting and still-developing pass-rush arsenal, Ojabo might end up as a top-12 pick.
One 2022 NFL Draft prospect to watch at every position at the NFL scouting combine - Anthony Treash
DL: BOYE MAFE, MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
Mafe landed in the top 20 of Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freaks List” last offseason. Among his absurd athletic accomplishments mentioned was a 40-plus-inch vertical and sub-4.6-second 40-yard dash time. Those elite marks are seen on the field. He has a fantastic get-off and has continuously improved his pass-rush toolbox. Mafe owns a 90.7 pass-rush grade for his collegiate career and posted the highest win rate of any pass-rusher at the Senior Bowl. With a big combine, Mafe could be a darkhorse first-round pick.
CB: KYLER GORDON, WASHINGTON HUSKIES
Gordon is going to put on a show during the athletic testing, as he posted a 42.5-inch vertical and 3.87-second pro agility at Washington — both of which would be top-20 marks among defensive backs at the combine since 2000. Gordon’s explosiveness and agility showed up on the field this past season for the Huskies, as he earned an 89.6 coverage grade. His technique and instincts aren’t necessarily elite, but his athleticism certainly is. If Gordon tests like we think he can, he could get selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
2022 NFL Scouting Combine winners and losers, Day 1: Chris Olave, Malik Willis impress - Chad Reuter
Maryland · TE
Okonkwo impressed at this year’s East-West Shrine Bowl, and he should continue his ascent on draft boards after a strong workout. His effort started with a 4.52 40-yard dash at 238 pounds, considerably faster than the other tight ends. Okonkwo looked as smooth on the field on Thursday as he did on Saturdays during the season. He didn’t catch every ball thrown his way but showed an ability to track passes over his shoulder and adjust to other throws that weren’t directly on target.
Wisconsin · TE
Ferguson needed a big combine performance to climb into the conversation for a top-100 pick. He was steady and solid in position drills, but his 15 bench-press reps and 4.81 40 at 250 pounds renewed doubts about his overall athleticism. The former Badger will still be a good safety valve for his new quarterback when he hits the next level, but Thursday’s results likely mean he’ll be available on Day 3 of the draft.