With the initial craze of free agency now behind us, it is time to look forward to the 2022 NFL Draft that is now only days away. 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 second straight year, one of the team’s top offseason needs is at edge rusher. Tyus Bowser is coming off an achilles injury and Justin Houston is still unsigned on the open market. While their need isn’t as dire as it was after losing Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in 2021, they still need help and depth in the pass-rushing department.
Kentucky’s Josh Paschal is one of the most promising prospects in a draft class loaded with pass rushers. He looks like a poor man’s Travon Walker — in a good way — with the potential to be the next Pernell McPhee and then some.
Like Walker and McPhee, he can be consistently disruptive from anywhere along the defensive trenches of even or odd fronts in any scheme. In college, Paschal took snaps dominated on the edge as 3-4 outside linebacker, at over, just inside and outside of offensive tackles as a five-technique. Also, at three-technique over offensive guards and at nose tackle over centers in nickel and dime defenses.
One of my favorite players in the draft & perhaps the most versatile, Kentucky DL Josh Paschal.— The GOAT House (@GoatHouseNFL) April 22, 2022
287 snaps over the tackle. 252 Edge. 87 DT. 23 NT. 4 LB.
Absolutely dominant reading & playing the run. pic.twitter.com/LHPxKUAD2Z
Paschal is coming off a strong senior season for the Wildcats in which he recorded five sacks, 52 total tackles, a team-leading 15 tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
His potential as a sub-package interior pass rusher that can take advantage of one-on-one matchups with guards and centers is immensely high. The quickness and power he plays with allow him to shed blocks or completely bulldoze whoever is in his way, as he knifes into the backfield to gobble up quarterbacks and ball carriers alike.
Why do I get excited about Josh Paschal? Not many people club Ed Ingram to the ground one handed like this. Fill his arsenal on top of the grown man play? Oh my... pic.twitter.com/VabtNXa35g— Matt Alkire (@mattalkire) April 6, 2022
Paschal is extremely powerful at the point of attack with violent hands, which he uses to quickly disengage blockers and close in on his target. He is a physical presence on the edge against the run. Paschal not only possesses excellent lateral agility and closing speed, but tackles with authority as well.
Josh Paschal surfs and closes cleanly. Calm, consistent, smart run defender. pic.twitter.com/03J4frk4mo— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) April 3, 2022
While we have to wait to see what imprints first-year Ravens’ Defensive Coordinator, Mike MacDonald, will implement, Paschal has the diverse skill set to excel in any scheme. He can be an every-down defender in the Ravens’ hybrid 3-4 front. He would likely be best utilized as an edge defender against the run on early downs, who can kick inside to rush the passer in long down-and-distance situations.
One of Paschal’s best qualities is his character, which coaches and scouts have continuously raved about during the pre-draft process. He overcame being diagnosed with malignant melanoma and undergoing multiple surgeries, as well as a year of immunotherapy treatment on the bottom of his right foot in college. He was the only three-time full-season captain in school history.
His love and dedication for the game are well known and evidenced by what he had to overcome in continuing his playing career. The Ravens love high character guys that fit into their blue-collar culture, in addition to being versatile weapons on their respective sides of the ball.
Paschal is projected to come off the board sometime on day two, as early as the middle of the second round. Ravens’ General Manager, Eric DeCosta, has three picks on the second day of the draft including, two in the third.
The former Wildcat likely won’t be on the board come the No. 100 overall pick. However, the Ravens’ first selection in that round — at No. 76 overall — would be the sweet spot, even if they’ve already taken an edge rusher with one of their picks in the first two rounds.