The Baltimore Ravens entered the 2022 offseason with a handful of needs on both sides of the ball. While they have addressed several of them with some key free agent signings and re-signings, question marks on the depth chart of multiple positions persist.
With the 2022 NFL Draft less than three weeks away, General Manager Eric DeCosta is currently equipped with 10 picks but could accumulate more with some trade-back scenarios. During his tenure and that of his predecessor, Ozzie Newsome, the front office has aggressively attacked positions of need through the draft by selecting more than one prospect and could do so again at several positions later this month.
Here are four potential position groups that they might consider double dipping at in the draft:
Injuries ravaged the Ravens’ cornerback depth chart during the 2021 regular season. Free agency depleted it as many of the players that suited up for them last year have signed elsewhere since the new league year began.
Anthony Averett signed with the Las Vegas the Raiders, Chris Westry followed Bradley Bozeman to North Carolina to join the Panthers, and Tavon Young—who was released—signed with the Chicago Bears on Friday. Jimmy Smith is still available and will be on speed dial in the case of an emergency but getting younger at the position needs to be a priority.
They still have the All-Pro tandem of Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, although both are coming off season-ending injuries, and re-signed Kevon Seymour at the onset of the offseason. The only other cornerback on the team signed through 2022 is Iman Marshall who they drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 draft out of USC but has only appeared in three career games and spent most of his first three years in the league on injured reserve.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ravens triple dipped at the position with the third being another safety/corner hybrid like they did with Brandon Stephens last year. A prospect like Trent McDuffie of Washington in the first round could help them inside the slot as well as on the perimeter. If they hold off until day two or three, a prospect like Tariq Woolen of UTSA, who is a converted receiver that possesses elite athletic traits with the aircraft carrier physique that attracted them to Westry, could be appealing.
The lack of quality tackle depth and viable insurance on the left side in particular hurt the Ravens’ offense and cost them dearly at times in 2021. It seems like the fate of their success on the offensive side of the ball in 2022 is directly tied to the full recovery of Ronnie Stanley’s ankle.
With the retirement of Alejandro Villanueva, the signing of Morgan Moses, and the expected return of Ja’Wuan James, the Ravens are set on the right side in 2022. However, they need depth behind their expected starters including a solid swing tackle option that can start in Stanley’s stead if he isn’t ready to go to start the season or misses time with a different injury—knock on wood.
If a player like Charles Cross of Mississippi State falls to them at No. 14 overall, he’d be the perfect candidate to be their right tackle of the future and swing tackle as a rookie. A day two swing tackle option is Rasheed Walker of Penn State and an early day three prospect is Max Mitchell of Louisiana.
While their cupboard at the position isn’t bare, it is far from fully stocked heading into 2022 with Tyus Bowser recovering from a late-season Achilles tear and veteran Justin Houston still unsigned on the free agent market. There could be an enticing enough option still on the board at No. 14 overall but in a draft where many analysts believe one of the biggest strengths is at pass rusher, the Ravens could also wait and grab a couple of outside linebackers between days two and three.
If a prospect like Jermaine Johnson of Florida State is available when they’re on the clock in round one, I believe that they will run up the card without hesitation. A pair of early day two or first round trade back options could be Boye Mafe of Minnesota and Arnold Ebiketie of Penn State.
One wild card option that may not yield immediate results in 2022 but could pay major dividends, in the long run, is taking David Ojabo of Michigan if falls out of the first round. He is expected to make a full recovery from the torn Achilles he suffered at his pro day and could form quite the ferocious tandem with Odafe Oweh once he is healthy.
After not taking a player at the position in last year’s draft, the Ravens might consider rectifying that twofold as they try to get younger in their defensive trenches despite bringing back Calais Campbell and Michael Pierce.
Many analysts have been mocking the top two defensive tackle prospects to Baltimore in Georgia’s Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt. They’ll likely have their pick of the two at No. 14 overall but there are some intriguing day two options like Travis Jones of UConn at nose tackle and Perrion Winfrey of Oklahoma or Logan Hall of Houston at defensive end. A day three prospect that they could spend a late round pick on and develop into a nice depth piece is John Ridgeway of Arkansas.
The Ravens also have a rich history of unearthing undrafted gems at the position like Pierce and Patrick Ricard who they developed into a three-time Pro Bowler at fullback after he played both ways to start his career. The team could draft a defensive end/five-technique relatively high in the draft and sign one of the best prospects at nose tackle/zero/one technique that didn’t get drafted immediately following the conclusion of the draft on day three.