Three years ago the Baltimore Ravens took the entire league by storm in the 2019 season thanks in large part to their revolutionary offense. They literally ran their way to the best record in the NFL, the top seed in the AFC, a first-round bye, and the best regular-season finish in franchise history with a historic rushing attack that broke several long-standing records.
Their ability to impose their will in the ground game with a massive bully of an offensive line opened up gaping rushing lanes for their running backs and dynamic dual-threat quarterback. It kept Lamar Jackson upright and allowed him to lead the league with 36 passing touchdowns including 25 from the pocket during his breakout season that ended with him becoming just the second player to ever be unanimously voted league MVP.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman’s unique scheme heavily featured multiple tight end sets and several variations of 12, 13, 22 and 23-personnel in creative ways that made their play-action passing game one of the best and most potent in the league. With several pass-catching threats at tight end, who doubled as excellent downfield blockers, it was nearly impossible to anticipate passing plays or distinguish between run or pass formations.
In the years since that legendary season that unfortunately ended in a shocking upset loss in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, a lot has changed. Their offensive line has deteriorated and lost its rugged edge due to injuries, the requested and obliged trade of Orlando Brown Jr., and the retirement of future Hall of Fame right guard Marshal Yanda. They have also failed to effectively fill the complementary pass-catching tight end role that Hayden Hurst thrived in before he was traded in the ensuing offseason, and blocking specialist Nick Boyle suffered a horrific knee injury in 2020 that he’s still recovering from.
While the Ravens still managed to return to the postseason the following year in 2020 and even won the first playoff game of the Jackson-Harbaugh era, it still wasn’t the same. This past season was doomed by injuries before it even began and they continued to mount as the year went on before ultimately becoming too much to bear.
The organization came into the 2022 offseason on a mission that started to come into focus in free agency and became abundantly clear following the 2022 NFL Draft. The Ravens want to get back to their bully ball roots on the offensive side of the ball which will consequently help a revamped defense by limiting the amount of time they have to spend on the field.
After losing a former University of Iowa interior offensive lineman with a nasty demeanor in Yanda, they selected one with the second of their two first-round picks in center Tyler Linderbaum at No. 25 overall. He is widely viewed as not only the top prospect at his position in this year’s class but one of the best to come out in years.
I don’t know how you watch Tyler Linderbaum film and don’t get beyond excited about the thought of him blocking for Lamar Jackson pic.twitter.com/OHSIXRBsrY— Ramey (@HoodieRamey) April 29, 2022
The reinforcements in the trenches didn’t stop there. The Ravens entered Day 3 with seven picks and used the first of six in the fourth round on Minnesota offensive tackle Daniel Faalele at No. 110 overall. He is an absolute mountain of a man and was literally the biggest prospect in the entire draft regardless of position at 6-foot-8 and 384 pounds. The former Golden Gopher was frequently compared to Brown Jr. throughout the pre-draft processes and will have time to develop while still providing quality depth since the team signed stalwart veteran Morgan Moses in free agency to man the right side in the meantime.
With two of their other five picks in the fourth round, the Ravens doubled dipped at the tight end position when many thought they should’ve taken a wide receiver after trading away Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown fresh off his first 1,000-yard receiving season. However, the selections of Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar and Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely at No. 128 and 139 overall sent a clear message about what they intend to do on offense and particularly in the passing game moving forward.
The Baltimore Raven’s offense was most dangerous with the 4 headed monster of Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst, Nick Boyle and Pat Richard in 2019. They are trying to get that formula back by drafting Tight ends Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely.#NFLDraft— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) April 30, 2022
Both prospects were prolific and potent pass catchers for their respective college offenses and will be expected to bring the same element to Baltimore while also growing as in-line blockers.
All three of the Ravens’ top running backs entering last season are returning from season-ending injuries that were suffered within weeks of each other last August. With that in mind, they addressed one of their sneakily underrated needs with the selection of Missouri standout Tyler Badie in the sixth round at No. 196 overall. The former SEC standout is a dynamic talent coming off a sensational senior season and can instantly contribute as a rookie in both the pass and run game. His presence and playmaking ability will allow the team to ramp up J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill cautiously to start the season.
The Ravens’ 2022 draft picks on the defensive side of the ball were almost all tremendous value picks as well, starting with safety Kyle Hamilton in the first round followed by Michigan edge rusher David Ojabo in the second, defensive tackle Travis Jones in the third, and cornerback Jalyn Amour-Davis in the fourth. Nevertheless, the offensive additions that came via the draft sent the loudest message coming out of the weekend and heading into a summer filled with plenty of excitement and fierce competition for a team primed to reach the mountain top for the first time in a decade.