Perfect spot: Ravens find ways to hit in top half of the first round - Jamison Hensley
What really sets Baltimore apart is how it takes advantage of the few instances when the team drafts in this prime draft location. While some of their recent draft classes have not lived up to expectations, the Ravens have a perfect track record when selecting 16th or higher since 2002, landing first-team All-Pro players every time: outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (2003), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (2006), offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (2016) and cornerback Marlon Humphrey (2017).
Baltimore hopes to extend this run in a draft that could see DeCosta go in several different directions. Do the Ravens look to trade up to get Oregon pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux or LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.? Do they stay at No. 14 and address the trenches with either Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis or Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning? Or do they fill a major need with Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie or Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II?
“When we’re picking 14, we don’t want the 14th best player [on your draft board],” Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said. “The pressure is you hope one of your top 7 falls to you.”
Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson Could Set Edge for Ravens - Todd Karpovich
Johnson would not only satisfy a need but would be a good fit in Baltimore, according to ESPN draft expert Todd McShay.
There is a chance that Johnson could be available when the Ravens make the 14th overall selection.
“Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum would be a good pick after the Ravens lost Bradley Bozeman to free agency. But could the Ravens afford to ignore Johnson’s fall out of the top 10 right into their lap at No. 14?” McShay wrote. “They were in the bottom 10 last year in sacks (34), and only Tyus Bowser (seven sacks) and Odafe Oweh (five) made much of a dent there.
“Johnson had 12 sacks and 46 pressures at FSU in 2021, frequently using his quick feet, powerful hands and arsenal of pass-rush moves to overwhelm blockers. If Linderbaum does end up with the Ravens, I’d bet it comes after a trade down the Round 1 board.”
Johnson is a muscular edge defender with long arms who excels versus the run from 4, 3 and 2 point stances on the strong or weak side of the defense. He is immensely physical and competitive, creating pop at the point of attack and chasing down plays with tremendous effort.
He shows flashes as a pass rusher but must improve his snap timing, cornering and hand usage. Early in his career, Johnson can be a functional starting edge on run downs and can grow into an above-average starter if he refines his pass-rushing skills.
Ravens’ Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets - Kristopher Knox
George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue
If the Ravens can manage to land Purdue pass-rusher George Karlaftis in the middle of Round 1, they would be getting a tremendous value. He is the eight-ranked prospect on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department’s big board and has the potential to be a high-end NFL power defender.
“Aside from ideal length, George Karlaftis has just about every trait necessary to bloom into a star power-rusher,” Derrik Klassen of the B/R Scouting Department wrote. “... He often gets the jump on opposing offensive tackles, opening up the floor for him to show off his relentless bull-rushing or array of hand-fighting tactics.”
An early run on quarterbacks and/or receivers could push Karlaftis into Baltimore’s range.
Baltimore ranked dead last in passing yards allowed last season, but the return of Peters and Humphrey should help tremendously. So should the free-agent addition of safety Marcus Williams. The Ravens can further improve their pass defense by bolstering a pass rush that yielded only 34 sacks last season.
This is where Karlaftis comes in. He is still developing his speed-rush repertoire but can bully opposing linemen out of the gate. He could rotate with the recently re-signed Calais Campbell and work as a complement to 2021 first-round edge-rusher Odafe Oweh.
With a better pass rush, a healthy secondary and a run defense that ranked first in the NFL last season, Baltimore’s defense could terrorize the conference in 2022.
If they went defensive line:
14th pick: Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia
45th pick: Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
76th pick: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
100th pick: Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
If they went cornerback:
14th pick: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
45th pick: Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State
76th pick: Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama
100th pick: Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
If they went EDGE:
14th pick: Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
45th pick: Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma
76th pick: Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
100th pick: Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
If they went offensive line:
14th pick: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
45th pick: Travis Jones, DL, Connecticut
76th pick: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
100th pick: Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
James Cook, RB, Georgia: The brother of Minnesota Vikings star Dalvin Cook, James didn’t get a ton of work in the Bulldogs crowded backfield. He did show an ability to find space and make plays in the passing game. He profiles well as a complementary back in Baltimore’s offense.
Eric Johnson, DT, Missouri State: Johnson, a five-year starter in college, projects as a solid rotational piece because of his versatility. He didn’t post big sack numbers in college, but he possesses good size and quickness.
Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia: At 6-foot and 194 pounds, Kendrick projects as a nickel corner in the NFL. He struggled against some top receivers, but he has good quickness and strong ball skills.
Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE, Maryland: The former Terrapin standout fits what the Ravens need behind Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle, which is an athletic tight end who can run and stretch the field. Okonkwo, who attended the Ravens local pro day, is one of the fastest tight ends in the draft.
Zach Tom, OT/C, Wake Forest: Ravens officials mentioned the possibility of transforming a college tackle into an NFL center. They won’t have to do much projecting with Tom who played some center early in his college career before moving to tackle.