It’s been several weeks since the 2022 NFL Draft concluded and the hype for the Baltimore Ravens’ impressive 11-man haul is still high. Often overly optimistic and sometimes unfair projections are placed on first-year players entering the league before they even take a snap in the preseason. With that in mind, the return of my annual realistic expectation article series has arrived.
DT Travis Jones
Round 3, No. 76 overall
The former University of Connecticut Huskie is yet another example of a prospect that was projected to come off the board much earlier than he did before falling into the Ravens’ lap in the third round. Many pundits and draft analysts didn’t think he’d have to wait long to come off the board on day two and some even thought he could’ve gone late on day one.
Nevertheless, General Manager Eric DeCosta pounced at the opportunity to bring in another gifted defender and stay true to his word about replenishing the ranks of the team’s defensive line with young talent. Jones possesses the positional versatility to play both nose tackle as well as three-technique.
In addition to being stout against the run, he has the most upside as an interior pass rusher of any player that the Ravens have drafted at the position since Timmy Jernigan, who recorded 13 sacks in his first three seasons from 2014 to 2016.
A realistic expectation for Jones in year one is that he will likely be in a heavy rotation at the one/zero-technique spot with veteran Michael Pierce, who the team brought back after two years away in Minnesota. The two will band together to fill the two-gapping run-stuffer role on early downs that former Pro Bowler Brandon Williams manned for nearly a decade from 2013 to 2021.
Jones can also rotate with third-year pro Justin Madubuike and spell veteran Derek Wolfe—if he plays—at defensive tackle/three-technique. Travis has violent hands, is extremely powerful at the point of attack, and can quickly shed blocks to gobble up quarterbacks and ball carriers alike. Don’t be surprised if he sees the field early and often as a rookie and potentially winds up out-snapping Pierce by the end of the year, even if he doesn’t make a single start.