By tomorrow night, the Baltimore Ravens will have made their first move in the 2022 NFL Draft; be a trade up, trade down, or a selection at the No. 14 overall pick, something will occur. Before that all goes down, I’m offering my thoughts.
Jordan Davis at No. 14 overall
A lot of mock drafts have Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis going to Baltimore at No. 14. He’s a titan of a man, and it’s exciting to consider him in a Ravens uniform lining up beside defensive ends Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, alongside the reunited defensive tackle Michael Pierce.
I’m on the fence with this pick. There are great possibilities with Davis becoming a Raven. The team gets younger at a department filled with veteran talent. Davis was a key factor in the strength of the Georgia defense and their trenches. The overly simplified math of, “Well, they can’t double team everybody,” when considering any combination of Campbell, Wolfe, Pierce and Davis lining up before the snap. It sounds like a thundering wave capable of crashing through a straw house.
At worst, I see Davis becoming the new Brandon Williams for Baltimore. He’ll be an excellent defensive lineman who turns gaps into tackling black holes. It’s not so bad. But, in the NFL, passing attacks are ever-growing. Spread offenses and making incredibly challenging one-on-one scenarios with pass-catchers has devalued Davis’ position.
At best, Davis and his athleticism, combined with the Ravens development of defensive lineman over the years could construct a force of nature with interior pressure. He’s an athletic phenom. In fact, he’s the best defensive lineman prospect in terms of Relative Athletic Score (RAS) since 1987.
Jordan Davis is a DT prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 10 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 1 out of 1378 DT from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/kiFBcmb09H #RAS pic.twitter.com/ellqHSeM0t— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 25, 2022
Davis is a hulking monster, full stop. If he were to develop skills from the likes of Campbell, Wolfe, Pierce and others, he could become a lineman the AFC North fears each game.
Likely, it will be somewhere in the middle. He’ll be a good-to-great player who will make some splash plays. Hard not to when you’re 6-foot-6, and 341 pounds with a 40-time of 4.78.
Considering a Wide Receiver
The Ravens haven’t made mention of the wide receiver position being a priority, be it a calculated effort to hide their interest in a player (as they did with Lamar Jackson in 2018) or if they’re confident with the two first-round picks they’ve already spent on the position.
This class is filled with talented pass-catchers. At No. 14 overall, I wouldn’t expect General Manager Eric DeCosta to draft his third first-round receiver in four drafts as the GM. However, I wouldn’t be surprised. The Ravens are building an offense for Jackson and though their style is running the football, a plethora of weapons never hurts the quarterback. Like I said, I don’t expect the Ravens to take another wideout at No. 14 overall, but the talent is there and the value could entice them.
Offensive Lineman Is Important
Jackson was at one point the most-sacked quarterback in the league. He suffered an injury not because he was free-wheeling on the railroad tracks and didn’t slide. It was a sack that did him in. He was consistently under duress and the Ravens have already improved their front five by adding offensive tackle Morgan Moses. There was positive news regarding franchise left tackle Ronnie Stanley earlier this week, too. But is that enough?
For @BmoreBeatdown: Ronnie Stanley on pace to be ready for 2022 season #RavensFlock https://t.co/MrmeRUOVlP— Dustin Cox (@_dustincox) April 25, 2022
The Ravens have others waiting in the wings, be it tackle Ju’Waun James or Tyre Phillips. But at No. 14, there are guys who could improve their blocking situation with Trevor Penning, Charles Cross or going center, with Tyler Linderbaum. The Ravens don’t have a “true center,” though Patrick Mekari is the man they re-signed, while letting center Bradley Bozeman walk in free agency. A weapon for Jackson isn’t always somebody speeding off the line of scrimmage. Sometimes, it’s a big-bodied blocker who keeps the grass stains off his No. 8 jersey.
Critical Draft for the Front Office
DeCosta and the Ravens, I assume, feel pressure to hit on their selections this season. The previous few haven’t yielded the results they’d hoped. In DeCosta’s first draft as the GM, few have developed into starting-caliber players. They landed a 1,000-yard receiver in Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, but others didn’t or haven’t performed much at the NFL level. Defensive tackle Daylon Mack played only one game for the Ravens. Cornerback Iman Marshall’s only played three. Ben Powers has played in all three seasons, but with up-and-down results. Their second pick in the 2019 draft came in the third round, and defensive end Jaylon Ferguson, who was a highly-decorated sack generator was healthy scratched multiple times in 2021.
The draft isn’t easy, and finding talent doesn’t always pan out. But, the Ravens herald themselves on their drafting ability and consider it a foundation of their roster construction. In 2022, it’s critical they hit on more prospects. They need talent on cheaper pay, as the shadow of Jackson’s contract creeps closer over the castle.