Baltimore Ravens 2022 NFL Draft Review

Ravens 2022 NFL Draft
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The Baltimore Ravens have completed another successful draft. Year after year, general manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh have done their best work when April rolls around. Instead of splashing a lot of cash on big-name free agents, the Ravens organization has been shaped around accumulating draft capital and reaping the rewards on draft weekend.

This year the Ravens made an astounding 11 picks. They acquired assets in traditional fashion via the league’s compensatory pick formula but made one splash move on draft day. The Ravens shipped Marquise Brown and the 100th-overall pick (third round) to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for the 23rd-overall pick in the 2022 draft. DeCosta then elected to move back two spots to #25 and picked up an extra fourth-rounder from the Buffalo Bills. This gave Baltimore a grand total of six fourth-round picks — of which they used every one.

With quarterback Lamar Jackson going into the final year of his rookie contract, the Ravens needed to make a statement with their draft class and DeCosta and company have done just that.

Baltimore selected the following players in the 2022 draft:

  • First-round, 14th overall: Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame) – Safety
  • First-round, 25th overall: Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa) – Center
  • Second-round, 45th overall: David Ojabo (Michigan) – EDGE
  • Third-round, 76th overall: Travis Jones (UConn) – Defensive Tackle
  • Fourth-round, 110th overall: Daniel Faalele (Minnesota) – Offensive Tackle
  • Fourth round, 119th overall: Jayln Armour-Davis (Alabama) – Cornerback
  • Fourth round, 128th overall: Charlie Kolar (Iowa State) – Tight End
  • Fourth round, 130th overall: Jordan Stout (Penn State) – Punter
  • Fourth round, 139th overall: Isaiah Likely (Coastal Carolina) – Tight End
  • Fourth round, 141st overall: Damarion Williams (Houston)- Cornerback
  • Sixth-round, 196th overall: Tyler Badie (Missouri) – Running Back

Baltimore Ravens 2022 NFL Draft Review

The Best Player: Kyle Hamilton

The Ravens landing safety Kyle Hamilton was an incredible stroke of luck that many pundits never saw coming. Hamilton was ranked as a top-10 player on each of the Draft Network’s and Pro Football Focus’s consensus big boards and was Daniel Jeremiah’s fifth-overall prospect in the entire draft. Analysts largely speculated that Hamilton could slip because of his positional value but the Ravens could be thanking the league for a decade.

Hamilton is a rare type of safety. At 6’4″ 220lbs, he is built like a weakside linebacker and has the range and athleticism to cover like a slot corner. Hamilton brings a ton of positional versatility, competitive fight, smarts, and a downhill trigger. Those skills put him in the middle of a ton of plays. Lance Zerlien compared Hamilton to Kam Chancellor. While that is a rich comparison for any player, Hamilton has the build and traits of an elite and scheme versatile safety.

The question now becomes, how will the Ravens implement Hamilton into their scheme? The Ravens already have one of the NFL’s best safety duos in Chuck Clark and new free agent-signee Marcus Williams but they typically play a semi-positionless defense in the secondary. New defensive coordinator Mike McDonald should have no problem asking Hamilton to cover tight ends, play single-high or in the box. Don’t be surprised if Hamilton is making splash plays in Baltimore Week 1 of the 2022 season and makes a push for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The Head-Scratcher: Jordan Stout

Looking at the Ravens draft class, just about every draft pick made sense. On the surface, DeCosta did not select any players who do not fill a need. He took many of them at slots which align with their pre-draft value.

If there was one head-scratching pick, however, it would likely be Stout. The Penn State punter was rated by many draft analysts as the best punter in the class but taking a punter in the fourth round is always a risk. He was the highest selected punter in the 2022 draft and became only the third punter taken before the third round since the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Bryan Anger in the third round of the 2012 draft. Most punters in the NFL are initially signed as undrafted free agents following the draft and are asked to prove themselves in training camp.

The 2022 draft was touted as one of the shallowest overall drafts in recent memory and this led multiple teams to pick punters. While the value is one question, the selection of Stout also leads to questions about the future of long-time Ravens punter Sam Koch. Koch is in the final year of his current contract and the selection of Stout may lead the Ravens to cut ties with Koch after 11 years with the organization. He still remains one of the best punters in the NFL even at age 40. The early selection of Stout signals that Koch’s time with the Ravens will be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

The Suprise: Waiting until Day 3 to draft a cornerback

While they may not have explicitly said it, Ravens brass did not appear to be interested in selecting a cornerback outside of Ahmad Gardner or Derek Stingley. Baltimore had its choice of either Andrew Booth or Trent McDuffie when they were on the clock with the 14th-overall pick but elected to select Hamilton instead. They even traded back their 23rd-overall pick to the Bills so that Buffalo could select Florida corner, Kaiir Elam.

However, it is clear DeCosta and Harbaugh both understand the secondary is still a position group that needs to remain strong. After selecting Hamilton at safety in the first round, Baltimore selected two cornerbacks in the fourth round in Jayln Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams. Both players will likely have a chance to earn playing time early in the season. Kevon Seymour should be the Ravens third-string outside cornerback after posting an overall grade per Pro Football Focus of 38.8 in 2021.

This could also mean that 2021 third-round pick Brandon Stephens will be given an expanded role in 2022. While the rookie mightly struggled last season, he could feature more as a slot corner following the Ravens selection of Hamilton. Stephens played primarily as a safety in 2021 after an injury placed DeShon Elliott on the injured reserve. The defensive scheme could also give slot corner duties to second-year player Ar’Darius Washington.

The Steal: David Ojabo

If Ojabo turns into the player many expected him to be prior to injuring his Achilles, he may be the biggest steal of the entire draft. Pundits projected the pass rusher as a top-10 pick before an Achilles injury at Michigan’s Pro Day derailed Ojabo’s first-round dreams. He will now reunite with Matt MacDonald, his defensive coordinator from Michigan. Coach Harbaugh, brother of his college head coach, Jim Harbaugh, will prominently feature him in gameplay.

While the biggest key to a successful NFL career for Ojabo will be his ability to recover from his most recent injury, he is still very much a work in progress. He was just a one-year starter at Michigan and is a very raw prospect. However, he has elite athletic traits and could not be in a better situation for his development. Ojabo possesses a rare blend of size and speed. However, much like his former high school teammate Odafe Oweh, he is still very new to football as a sport. He racked up 11 sacks during his final year of college ball by depending on his athleticism and raw talent. Ojabo is a speed rusher at his core. Yet, he showcased enough power during his time at Michigan to convince scouts he is not just a one-trick pony.

The Ravens have done a great job at churning out impact pass rushers over the past decade and should give Ojabo every chance to succeed in their system. This fit is perfect and the value at #45 is staggering.

Most Likely To Turn Heads In Training Camp: Tyler Linderbaum

Hamilton will make a lot of splash plays on his own. Yet, Linderbaum will own and excel at what the Ravens do best: run the football. While the former Hawkeye might not match the mold of a typical Ravens’ offensive lineman, he has incredibly well-developed technique. He plays as a menace in space by catching the opposing defender off-guard. At just 6’3″ 292 lbs, Linderbaum will be the lightest player on the Ravens offensive line by over 20 lbs. However, that does not mean he lacks that Ravens-type mentality.

Linderbaum excels the most when he is in space at the second level. Pundits projected him to fit best in a scheme that utilizes a lot of play-action and screens. He also brings a new element of versatility to the Ravens offense. Baltimore’s run-heavy attack is not the most complicated scheme in the NFL to execute for an offensive lineman. Linderbaum should have no problem adapting to his new environment. This should allow Jackson and offensive coordinator Greg Roman to expand the playbook. If that happens, Linderbaum is going to develop an extensive highlight reel running over defenders and violently finishing in the open field.

The knock on Linderbaum coming into the draft was his size. He, however, flourished in the Big 10 and should dominate early and often in his NFL career. He was one of the most productive players in the entire draft. Incredibly, the Ravens landed him towards the back end of the first round. Former Hawkeye Marshal Yanda played over a decade of All-Pro level football for the Ravens on the interior and Linderbaum is set to follow in his footsteps.

The Rest

Offense

Round 4

Daniel Faalele is a mountain of a man. Similar to Orlando Brown Jr, Faalele might not be the most athletic tackle, but he more than makes up for his shortcomings with his stature. At 6’8″ 383 lbs, Faaelele has a chance to be the heaviest player in the NFL next season. And that’s just as a rookie. If Faalele turns into a viable pro and wants to add mass, the tackle could become just the fourth NFL player in history to weigh in at over 400 lbs. He only started playing football in 2017. Faalele owns the intangibles to be a great project at right tackle for Baltimore.

Charlie Kolar was one of the most productive tight ends in the country during his four years at Iowa State. He finished second on the Cyclones in receptions in back-to-back seasons. Brock Purdy made him the go-to red-zone target, tossing Kolar 20 touchdowns during his final three seasons. There are some concerns about Kolar’s lack of true athletic ability. Yet, he proved to have a wide target radius with some of the most reliable hands at his position. While he might not possess a Mark Andrews-type upsides, the Ravens could find a number of ways to utilize a complete tight end like Kolar.

Isaiah Likely was the second of the Ravens two tight end selections in the 2022 draft. However, multiple outlets viewed him as the better prospect. Likely developed nicely as an unranked prospect out of high school. He then turned into one of the most athletic tight ends in college football. He finished the 2021 season with the third-most receiving yards in the Sun Belt. The NCAA honoured him as a John Mackey Award semi-finalist. Likely must add mass to his frame before playing as a full-time NFL tight end. Yet, his athleticism gives him the potential to become a mismatch piece in the Ravens offense.

Round 6

Tyler Badie went from seldomly used third-down back to breakout star in 2021. Badie saw just 245 carries his first three seasons at Missouri. During his senior year, he saw a whopping 268 carries. He made the most of them rushing for 1,604 yards and 14 touchdowns, while adding 54 receptions for 330 receiving yards. While Badie is a smaller back, he has a compact build. He plays much bigger than his 5’8″ frame would indicate. He hits gaps with explosiveness and plays unafraid of taking on defenders head-on. Running backs his size do not typically become three-down backs in the NFL. Badie, however, could be a fun change-of-pace back in an already talented backfield.

Defense

Round 3

Travis Jones could be one of the Ravens most valuable picks of the 2022 draft. He clocks in at 6’4″ and 325 lbs but moves like a man who is a lot smaller. His play strength was amongst the best in the class at his position. He plays with a mean streak and motor to match. Jones is the kind of nose tackle whom simply wants to power his way past or walk centers straight into the passer on every rep. He dominated the Senior Bowl 1-on-1 workouts and put a particularly impressive rep on tape against the New England Patriots first-round pick Cole Strange.

Round 5

Jayln Armour-Davis is going to be a project player for the Ravens. He comes from a school in Alabama that consistently turns out impact rookie cornerbacks. Yet, Armour-Davis does not have the track record which so many great Alabama corners did before him. Due to the overwhelming amount of talent in Tuscaloosa, he was just a one-year starter. However, Armour-Davis was able to showcase a great blend of speed and agility with the reps he put on tape. At 6’1″ with 30 7/8″ arms, he has the ideal size and length for a press-man corner. He could be a great matchup piece down the line.

Damarion Williams is likely going to be part of the competition for the starting slot corner job in 2022. Coming out of Houston, he has a smaller frame at 5’10” 182 lbs but possesses a lot of the same skills that Tavon Young played with during his time in Baltimore. William plays with a high football IQ and always wants to get his hands on the ball. His size will limit him to nickel usage. Yet, the Ravens have already seen great results from 2021 UDFA Ar’Darius Washington (who is just 5’8″ and 178 lbs). Injury depleted the Ravens secondary last season and Williams will provide valuable depth.

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