5 overlooked teams entering the 2022 NFL season - Kambui Bomani
Current Super Bowl Odds: +2200
Spread Points Above Average: 2.16
Opponent ELO Ranking: 22nd
Toughest Schedule Stretch: Weeks 3-5
Why They Can Exceed Expectations
Brandon Stephens and Chuck Clark are set to relinquish their 2021 starting roles to free agent acquisition Marcus Williams and promising draft pick Kyle Hamilton. Williams’ ability as a deep middle safety was renowned throughout his New Orleans Saints tenure, and Hamilton made waves in South Bend due to his versatility in coverage and as a run defender. If that duo hits its ceiling in Mike Macdonald’s defense in 2022, the sky is the limit for Baltimore.
The team will also return its top two running backs from 2020 in J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards after each missed all of last season due to preseason ACL tears. Both finished the 2020 season with 80.0-plus rushing grades, with Edwards’ 86.1 mark leading the way. Edwards, Dobbins and Jackson combined for 78 of the team’s 93 runs that spanned at least 10 yards or more that season. The return of the three-headed ground attack drastically changes the Ravens’ offensive dynamic.
X-Factor for 2022: WR Rashod Bateman
Bateman’s rookie season never took off as expected thanks to nagging offseason injuries. After finally seeing the field in Week 6, he played the remaining 12 games and showed some flashes as a contested-catch threat and a chain-moving possession receiver.
The second-year receiver is set to take on WR1 duties with Marquise Brown now in Arizona, and he’ll need to be a factor beyond the middle of the field. A lot of weight will be on Lamar Jackson’s shoulders to elevate the aerial attack, but Bateman becoming the primary second option behind Mark Andrews would certainly help the Ravens’ offense.
2022 Offensive Line Rankings: 32-22 - Justin Edwards
25. Baltimore Ravens
Key 2021 Stat: 3.82 adjusted line yards (29th)
Additions: Tyler Linderbaum (first round, Iowa), Daniel Faalele (fourth round, Minnesota), Morgan Moses (Jets)
Subtractions: Bradley Bozeman (Panthers), Alejandro Villanueva (retirement)
Much of that is going to depend on rookie center Tyler Linderbaum who, although undersized, and short on length, is an elite athlete and figures to step into the league as a legit, top-15 option at the position. His strengths should be maximized here in Baltimore where they’re not going to ask him to sit and anchor down for long strings of four-or-five second pockets; on passing plays, Lamar Jackson is going to get the ball out of his hands or take off running. This isn’t to say Linderbaum can’t pass protect, just that his best film is on runs, particularly in zone runs where he can flex that athleticism and cut off defensive linemen an entire gap away before the defense can even react.
If Ronnie Stanley is truly all the way back to health, and if Linderbaum can quickly adapt to the speed of the NFL, the Ravens could honestly flip from a bottom-10 to top-10 unit by year’s end, but the loss of Villanueva and the questions surrounding Stanley have them living here. For now.
Under-the-radar AFC players who can be stars in 2022: Ravens, Patriots running backs primed for big seasons - Jeff Kerr
J.K. Dobbins missed his entire sophomore season in the NFL with a torn ACL, making many forget how productive he was in his rookie season two years ago. Dobbins was the first rookie in NFL history with 800 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, and 6.0 yards per carry average in a season — one of six players all-time to accomplish the feat.
A healthy Dobbins will be a tremendous asset to the Ravens offense. Dobbins is expected to be the No. 1 running back in Baltimore and should get a good number of carries as he looks for his first 1,000-yard season in Baltimore’s run-first offense.
Last season, Baltimore had big plans to deploy J.K. Dobbins more in a pass-catching role that would maximize his open-field ability and complement Gus Edwards’ downhill bruising running. Dobbins’ preseason knee injury derailed those plans.
Veteran addition Devonta Freeman was targeted with 42 passes, the sixth-most on the team. But only five teams in the league sent fewer targets to their top running back and only two offenses (Rams, Seahawks) threw to their running backs less.
The Ravens got Dobbins involved as a receiver at times during his rookie season. In the playoff loss in Buffalo, Dobbins caught three of five targets for 51 yards. While Dobbins only had 24 targets and 18 catches as a rookie, he flashed his ability to do more damage in that area.
Top Ravens draft pick Kyle Hamilton signs rookie contract, one of largest in team history - Jonas Shaffer
Hamilton, the No. 14 overall pick, will receive a fully guaranteed $16.3 million, according to the NFL Network, including a $9 million signing bonus. The Ravens also have a team option for the fifth year of Hamilton’s contract. Under the NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement, the rookie wage scale all but dictates what players receive in their four-year deals.
Just five picks remains unsigned: outside linebacker David Ojabo (second), offensive tackle Daniel Faalele (third), cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis (fourth), tight end Charlie Kolar (fourth) and punter Jordan Stout (fourth).
Hamilton, a two-time Associated Press All-American, had eight interceptions over three seasons at Notre Dame. He’s expected to contribute early in the Ravens’ secondary, and he’s impressed in offseason workouts.
Cornerback Damarion Williams Signs Rookie Contract - Clifton Brown
Fourth-round cornerback Damarion Williams signed his rookie contract Tuesday, becoming the fifth Ravens draft pick to ink his deal.
Williams’ versatility in college was a trait that impressed the Ravens prior to the draft. He played everywhere in the secondary at Houston and will compete for playing time as a corner who can play both outside and in the slot.
Listed at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Williams plays bigger than his size and is a solid run defender in addition to his ability in pass coverage. The Ravens drafted two corners in the fourth round, Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis of Alabama, and will look for both to add depth behind to the cornerback to rotation led by Pro Bowlers Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and recently signed veteran Kyle Fuller.