BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s Draft Day. After a disappointing 8-9 season marked by a raft of injuries to key players, the Baltimore Ravens enter the NFL Draft with several obvious holes to fill at offensive tackle, cornerback, edge and defensive tackle. Fortunately for the team, executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta has 10 total picks to play with, opening up the possibility he could move around the board in his hunt for talent.
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— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 28, 2022
The start of the draft Thursday at 8 p.m. marks the end of mock draft season — at least for 2022. Here’s a look at who the experts have the Ravens taking at No. 14 overall.READ MORE: Montessori Public Charter School In Baltimore No Longer On Lockdown After Threat Called In
DT, Georgia, 6’6″, 341 pounds
Most mocks have the Ravens taking the massive tackle in the middle of the Bulldogs’ record-setting, national championship defense. And even though Baltimore spent a lot of its offseason dollars along the line, bringing back Michael Pierce and re-signing Calais Campbell, it’s not hard to see why. Descriptors like “freak” and “unicorn” are used to in reference to Davis, who uses his size and sheer strength to overwhelm blockers and disrupt the run game.
The knock against him is he alone doesn’t solve one of the biggest areas of need for the Ravens defense: getting to the quarterback. Last season Baltimore ranked 23rd in sacks and 24th in pressure percentage.
Even so, having David planted in the middle of the front seven taking on multiple blockers should only make the players around him better. And with Campbell and Derek Wolfe nearing the end of their careers, Davis would establish a solid foundation for the future.
Mocked to the Ravens by: ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN’s Todd McShay, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco, CBS Sports and 105.7 The Fan’s Jason La Canfora, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Hanson
OT, Northern Iowa, 6’7″, 325 pounds
On paper, the offensive line looks to be in better shape after surrendering 57 sacks, second most in the NFL. All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley is set to return after only playing in seven games the last two years and the Ravens signed right tackle Morgan Moses, who’s played in 113 consecutive games, to a three-year deal. The wild card: Ja’Wuan James, a former first round pick the team signed late in the 2021 offseason. After spending the season rehabbing a torn Achilles, a healthy James could join a rejuvenated Stanley and Moses to make a formidable trio of bookends to protect quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Selecting Penning could be a sign the team is concerned with how Stanley and James are progressing. But make no mistake, the three-year starter with the Panthers is a legit talent known for his grit and high motor. As NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein writes: “Penning plays with a level of disgust for anyone lining up against him and seeks out violent block finishes when possible. He’s athletic enough to block on the move and has the potential to shine as a powerful drive blocker.”
CB, Washington, 5’11”, 193 pounds
Both players atop the cornerback depth chart, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, are coming off devastating injuries. Below them, there’s not much to write home about. Last year’s depleted group surrendered a league-worst 4,742 passing yards, and the unit has since lost Anthony Averett, Tavon Young and Chris Westry.
The Ravens will definitely be taking corners in the draft, it just depends on if the front office thinks the right player is there at No. 14. McDuffie has the speed — he ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at the combine — and technique to be a starter. “One of McDuffie’s best traits is his physical playing style, as he limits most yards after the catch, swinging in with a pop and securing tackles with fantastic form,” writes Draft Wire’s Natalie Miller.
Many analysts and scouts are enamored with McDuffie’s small size.READ MORE: Dunbar High School In Baltimore Dismisses Early Due To Gas Leak
Even if Peters is ready to roll at the start of the season, he’s only under contract for 2022, giving an opportunity for a player like McDuffie to slot in alongside Humphrey for years.
DE, Purdue, 6’4″, 266 pounds
The junior is sliding down mock draft boards, but CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards and Raven Country’s Scott McClure still have Baltimore taking the Boilermakers defensive end at 14th overall. Last year, Karlaftis logged 4 1/2 sacks, 54 total tackles and two forced fumbles. A major plus: he would add much-needed depth at pass rush, one of the Ravens’ biggest weaknesses. Pro Football Focus gave Karlaftis a 90.6 pass-rushing grade in his junior season, noting his career-high 12 pressures against No. 2 Iowa in October.
“Karlaftis is a versatile iron man who can do almost anything a team could ask of him,” PFF says.
McClure writes Karlaftis is a complete edge rusher “with the size to set the edge, the strength to play stout against the run, and the power to collapse the pocket.”
Other analysts are not as high on his ability to bring down rushers coming out of the backfield, and there’s an element of the unknown, as Karlaftis was limited to only two games in his sophomore season.
DE, Oregon, 6’4″. 254 pounds
Could the Ravens be so lucky and have Thibodeaux, once considered the consensus No. 1 pick, fall into their laps? While it seems unlikely, CBS Sports writer Ryan Wilson has it playing out just like that — though even he concedes that kind of tumble “feels like a bit much.”
A supposed strike against the first-team Associated Press All-American? He skipped position drills at the NFL combine.
If Thibodeaux did somehow make it to 14th, DeCosta would be absolutely thrilled to land such an elite talent. According to Zierlein, the Oregon rusher is a plus defender in the run game and should have enough power and burst to “bring reasonable sack/pressure production.” Pro Football Focus touts his “elite first step” and size for the position.
A pairing of Thibodeaux and Odafe Oweh should make opposing quarterbacks a lot less comfortable in the pocket than they were in 2021.MORE NEWS: Maryland Weather: Cool & Cloudy With Some Sunshine
Mocked to the Ravens by: CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson