The Baltimore Ravens selected six total players over the weekend to fill out their 2023 draft class. It was an even split on both sides of the ball, as three of the team’s picks were offensive players and three were defensive players.
While much can change between now and the start of the season, let’s take an early look at what role each incoming rookie may play on the Ravens in Year 1.
WR Zay Flowers
There’s a good reason the Ravens were keen on Flowers going back months prior to the draft. The Boston College product profiles as an instant-impact offensive playmaker thanks to his combination of athleticism and well-rounded receiving skill set.
Flowers possesses inside-outside versatility, meaning he can be deployed in multiple ways in Todd Monken’s offense. Despite being undersized at 5-foot-9, Flowers plays physical and aggressive, which allows him to compensate for a lack of height.
Because of his yards-after-catch ability and explosiveness, the Ravens will want to get Flowers on the field early and often. He can step in as the Ravens’ primary slot option and starting slot wideout in 11 personnel, while also taking snaps on the outside in 12 personnel.
His exact role as a “starter” per say is subjective given he projects behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman on the depth chart. Regardless, Flowers will have a significant role in the offense.
Role: No. 3 wide receiver
LB Trenton Simpson
The Ravens did not have an on-paper need for another inside linebacker, yet drafted one anyways in the third round. Simpson’s athletic profile and coverage skills should get him on the field in Year 1. He’ll immediately be a special teams contributor as well.
Simpson’s rookie role, though, is very contingent on the status of Patrick Queen. Queen is viewed as a potential trade candidate prior to the season now that the Ravens added Simpson into the mix. If this were to prove true, Simpson could step into a starting role alongside Roquan Smith from the get-go.
If the Ravens don’t trade Queen, Simpson will have to co-exist with the former and Smith at the position. He’d likely be used as a chess-piece type player on defense in passing situations who can match up with tight ends and cover space.
As of today, Queen is still on the roster and will retain his starting off-ball linebacker role on defense. So, that means Simpson projects as a rotational player.
Projected role: Rotational linebacker
OLB Tavius Robinson
In the fourth round, the Ravens drafted Mississippi’s Tavius Robinson. Robinson is an older rookie (he’ll turn 25 in January) but is another athletic prospect who brings upside to the table. Robinson’s size and outside-inside versatility are unique to the Ravens’ edge rusher room, meaning snaps should be in-store for him right away.
The only edge rushers currently under contract for 2023 are Tyus Bowser, Odafe Oweh, David Ojabo, Daelin Hayes, and Jeremiah Moon. It’s possible Eric DeCosta could look to re-sign a veteran like Justin Houston or Jason Pierre-Paul, which could crowd the depth chart a little more.
Regardless, while he won’t challenge for starter minutes, Robinson figures to slot in as a rotational piece at the position early on.
Projected role: Rotational edge rusher
CB Kyu Blu Kelly
In the third wave of free agency, the Ravens are likely to add at least one, if not two veteran cornerbacks. They’re still in-need of a starter-caliber opposite Marlon Humphrey to fill out the depth chart. This is true even after the team drafted Kyu Blu Kelly out of Stanford.
Blu Kelly has prototypical size and length to play outside corner in the NFL. In college, he showed flashes of press-man ability, which traditionally the Ravens value at the position. However, it’s hard to see him leaping up the depth chart early on given his need for development in run defense, closing speed, and coverage technique.
He therefore projects best as a backup on the depth chart with the potential to develop into a rotational contributor at cornerback later on. Blu Kelly will almost certainly see a high snap count on special teams too, though.
Projected role: Backup cornerback
OT Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu
The Ravens are set to return four of five starters on their offensive line from the 2022 season, with left guard being the only vacancy. The team drafted Aumavae-Laulu as a late-round pick who profiles as a developmental lineman.
At Oregon, Aumavae-Laulu played primarily right tackle, but may be better-suited as an offensive guard in the NFL. His athleticism in space and power are good traits, but he also has much room for improvement as a technician and fluid blocker.
It’s hard to envision him being a significant challenger for a starting role in Year 1 over the likes of Ben Cleveland or Patrick Mekari, or even John Simpson perhaps. His positional versatility is something the Ravens covet in backup offensive lineman.
Projected role: Reserve swing tackle
OG Andrew Vorhees
After suffering a torn ACL at the scouting combine, 2023 will be a redshirt rookie season for Vorhees. His role won’t be determined until the following year, but he has starter-quality upside should his rehab and recovery go smoothly.
Projected role: TBD