What began as a calm Thursday night quickly turned into a whirlwind of a first round of the draft for the Baltimore Ravens. They wheeled and dealed their way to making two total picks after acquiring an additional first-round selection, but it came at a pretty surprising cost.
Here’s a brief recap of their transactions, followed by some winners and losers from what the Ravens did in Round 1:
- Selected S Kyle Hamilton at No. 14 overall
- Traded WR Marquise Brown and the No. 100 pick to the Arizona Cardinals for the No. 23 pick
- Traded the No. 23 pick to the Buffalo Bills for the No. 25 pick and No. 130 pick
- Selected C Tyler Linderbaum at No. 25 overall
Winner: “Best Player Available” strategy
The Ravens have long proclaimed they operate on a “best player available” strategy in the draft. They held true to this on Thursday night in taking Kyle Hamilton at No. 14 overall.
Despite having much greater positional needs at edge rusher, offensive tackle and cornerback, the Ravens took a safety, where they already have two starters in-place with Chuck Clark and Marcus Williams. Hamilton was evidently too high on their board for them to pass up.
Hamilton was the consensus top-ranked safety prospect was not projected to slide as far as he did on most mock drafts. He did, however, and the Ravens chose to secure the talent and will have to figure out the details and fit later.
Loser: Lamar Jackson
You never want your franchise quarterback to be a “loser” in anything. Yes, the addition of Tyler Linderbaum is in theory a positive for Lamar Jackson, as it further fortifies the Ravens’ offensive line. However, Jackson comes out as a loser because the Ravens subtracted the team’s No. 1 wide receiver and deep threat in Marquise Brown.
Losing Brown is a significant blow to the Ravens’ passing game. They have plenty of time to add more talent at the wideout position, but in the short-term, the Ravens are not a better offense without “Hollywood” than they are with him.
Jackson appeared to express discontent on Twitter shortly after the trade. However, in the Ravens’ post-draft press conference, Eric DeCosta said he and John Harbaugh informed Jackson of the move well in advance, so there’s some lack of clarity with this situation.
Either way, Jackson no longer has the services of his top wide receiver of the past few seasons, who also happened to be his off-the-field best friend.
Winner: Rashod Bateman
The Ravens’ decision to trade Brown is all but a nod of confidence towards Rashod Bateman, who is now their de-facto No. 1 wideout barring an unforeseen big splash.
Bateman, the team’s No. 27 overall pick in 2021, showed flashes of brilliance at times in his rookie season. Unfortunately, an injury sidelined him for the first five weeks of the year, and he was never able to develop a strong QB-WR rapport with Jackson because Lamar then missed the final several games of the season.
All indications are that Bateman is having a strong offseason thus far and him and Jackson have been working out together. Bateman’s workload and target share is now set to increase significantly in 2022 and he could be in-store for a big sophomore campaign.
As the current depth chart stands, the Ravens will need him to make a jump, too.
Loser: Positional need/value
To the Hamilton point, the Ravens didn’t need a safety and took one anyways. They also didn’t necessarily need a center, at least in the first round, but traded their way to picking Tyler Linderbaum at No. 25 overall.
Linderbaum is a good prospect in many ways, but the Ravens didn’t have a gaping hole at starting center the way they do at a position like edge rusher or cornerback. Patrick Mekari was at least in-place as a starting-caliber option.
Still, the center position is not considered a “premium” one in the way offensive tackle or cornerback are, and investing a first-round pick in center is all but unprecedented for the Ravens.
The flip side to the previous point, though, is that in drafting two positions that weren’t necessarily pressing needs, the Ravens now have improved depth at both safety and center. They’re five or six deep with safeties not including Brandon Stephens, who seems primed to transition to more of a slot cornerback role.
Behind Williams, Clark and now Hamilton is Tony Jefferson, Geno Stone and Ar’Darius Washington. The addition of Linderbaum adds to the depth of the interior offensive line but also stabilizes the offensive tackle spot, because it pushes Mekari into more of a swing tackle role as the “sixth man.”
They still need to add cornerbacks to the roster and will likely still draft an offensive tackle in the middle rounds. However, the Ravens are undoubtedly deeper on the offensive line and in the secondary after the first round.