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Ravens News 4/18: Draft Simulation and more

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Arkansas v Mississippi State Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Pass-rusher? Corner? Breaking down the Ravens’ first-round decision - Jamison Hensley

Pass-rusher

Memorable stat: The Ravens were held to nine sacks during their season-ending, six-game losing streak, including a total of two from outside linebackers (Bowser had 1.5 and Houston had a half-sack). Only six teams had fewer overall sacks over that span.

Potential targets: Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State; George Karlaftis, Purdue; Boye Mafe, Minnesota

Quote to note: “Karlaftis is a guy that you just watch and play, and one thing you can guarantee yourself: He’s going to play hard all the time.” — Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz

Cornerback

Potential targets: Trent McDuffie, Washington; Derek Stingley, LSU

Quote to note: “We like physical players. We like players that challenge people a little bit more, at corner, especially. So, if he’s a physical player, he’s tough, he challenges people, he can play press, he’s willing to tackle, we kind of favor those kinds of guys – ball skills are very important.” — Harbaugh

Offensive tackle

Memorable stat: Alejandro Villanueva, who replaced Stanley at left tackle, finished with 17 sacks allowed last season. That’s the second-most given up by an AFC North offensive lineman in the last five seasons. In 2017, the BrownsSpencer Drango allowed 20 sacks.

Potential targets: Charles Cross, Mississippi State; Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

NFL draft risers and fallers, Round 1 trades, QB draft order, and more: Experts roundtable - Nate Tice

Jermaine Johnson is another player getting love after an impressive Senior Bowl performance. While I do like Johnson and think he will be a good starter in the NFL, his upside makes him a player I’d be comfortable taking in the second half of the first round. Some mocks have him landing in the top 10.

I will also keep pounding the table that offensive lineman Charles Cross should be an easy top 10 pick.

2022 NFL Draft edge defender rankings - Sam Monson

6. BOYE MAFE, MINNESOTA

Nobody in this draft class has the kind of first-step get-off Mafe brings to the table. In a pass-first league, that’s never been more important. He posted the highest PFF pass-rushing grade of any edge rusher at the Senior Bowl and when he can pin his ears back and attack the quarterback, his performance shoots through the roof. He had an 83.8 PFF pass-rushing grade last season, but that jumped above 90 against true pass sets. If a team needs a high-end pass-rushing threat, Mafe is a guy to aim at once the top couple of players are off the board.

7. NIK BONITTO, OKLAHOMA

Bonitto is a problem for offenses to block. He is undersized and may never be an effective player overall against the run, but his speed, quickness and ability to get skinny and work through gaps along the offensive line means he lives in the backfield. In a pass-first league, that’s valuable, and probably far more so than it’s being thought of by most. Bonitto was the most productive pass-rusher in the entire draft class over the last two seasons combined, beating even the likes of Hutchinson and Thibodeaux for that crown.

8. DRAKE JACKSON, USC

Everybody scouting edge rushers want to see that one pure play of bending and turning the corner against a tackle to get to the quarterback with speed and flexibility, and Jackson has more of those plays on tape than any other edge rusher in this class. It’s not always as clean, but when he wins, it tends to be devastatingly effective. There’s a lot of projection involved in his play against the run and whether he can win in a variety of ways, but that one trick is a vital one at the next level, and elite rushers have made a career out of it (Robert Quinn, etc.). I’m all for taking a chance on a guy who has the special trait everybody covets and working on the rest later on.

Special Prospects Could Challenge Need in Draft - Ryan Mink

The more I watch McDuffie, the more he makes sense for the Ravens. Sure, he isn’t built like Jimmy Smith. But he’s only an inch shorter and several pounds lighter than Marlon Humphrey. McDuffie is physical, sticky and has ball skills. He could learn from fellow former Huskie Marcus Peters.

However, a special prospect such as Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis, or maybe even Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd, could trump the biggest need if they’re considerable higher on Baltimore’s draft board. Eric DeCosta is always hunting for value and fit. Davis would be quite a sight.

The Ravens are in the insurance market this offseason with so many star players coming back from season-ending injuries. But with needs elsewhere, it’s tough to envision spending a first-round pick on an offensive tackle, for example, that would be out of position if things go according to plan.

Washington Cornerback Named Best Fit for Ravens - Todd Karpovich

Huskies cornerback Kyler Gordon was named as the “best fit” for the Ravens, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Gordon has plenty to work on from a technical standpoint and isn’t an overly instinctive player, but he does have the traits to develop into a quality starting corner in the NFL — especially in a scheme-diverse defense like Baltimore that would also fully tap into his inside-outside versatility,” Anthony Treash wrote. “The Washington corner has top-notch short-area quicks and produced at a top-tier level in 2021 while playing a versatile role. Gordon earned an 89.6 coverage grade with no touchdowns allowed, two interceptions and six pass breakups.”

Last season, Gordon was named to the All-Pac-12 first team. He started all 12 games and finished with 46 tackles. two interceptions, one forced fumble and a team-high seven pass breakups.

Reviewing NFL Draft simulations: Who’s projected where, trade hot spots and QB disparities - Larry Holder

No. 14: Ravens

PFN — Penning 5, Cross 3, Trade 3 (Cross, Bengals; Penning, Giants; Williams, Packers), Ekwonu 2, Stingley 2, Wilson 2

TDN — Davis 9, Booth 6, Zion Johnson 2

The Ravens are hoping left tackle Ronnie Stanley will be healthy this season after missing basically the whole 2021 season with an ankle injury that lingered from 2020. The PFN gears turned toward having Penning, Cross or Ekwonu in place of Stanley in case he’s still not ready. Morgan Moses would be the team’s option, right now, at right tackle.

TDN assumes Davis will end up either in Minnesota or Baltimore given that 19 of the 20 simulators pushed the nose tackle to those two teams. Michael Pierce returned to the Ravens after spending last season in Minnesota (played only eight games); he played in Baltimore his first four years.