The Baltimore Ravens‘ recent offseason moves have practically depleted their cornerback depth. Does this mean the team will draft a cornerback with the No. 14 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft?
So far, the signs point toward: Yes. On Wednesday, the Ravens released Tavon Young to clear up cap space and didn’t tender restricted free agent Chris Westry, though both Young and Westry could return to the team on cheaper deals later this offseason.
Those moves left the team dangerously thin at cornerback, and after their 2021 injury blight, the Ravens should know how important depth is.
While the Ravens desperately need help in the trenches, recent roster developments may have made upgrading the secondary the most important priority in the 2022 draft — and rightfully so.
Behind starters Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, both of whom are returning from season-ending injuries, the Ravens have very few playable members in the backfield.
Peters’ potential long-term replacement, Anthony Averett, will likely walk this free agency, and the rest of the corners provide merely third or fourth-string depth.
The Ravens could be poised to select a cornerback in the first round of the 2022 draft
One snag in Peters’ or Humphrey’s recovery timeline and the Ravens are suddenly back to where they were in 2021, when Baltimore finished dead last in passing defense and failed to reach the playoffs.
The league remembers how badly Joe Burrow and the Bengals torched the Ravens in their second regular-season meeting, and this time around Baltimore need to take every precaution against another catastrophic embarrassment.
Many mock drafts already have the Ravens going after a cornerback in the first round whether it’s LSU’s Derek Stingley, Washington’s Trent McDuffie, or Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner — all promising options who could reasonably fall to Baltimore at pick No. 14.
Releasing Young has given the Ravens more cap space to work with this offseason, so Baltimore could opt to venture down the veteran free agency route as well. J.C. Jackson and Carlton Davis are arguably the best pending free agents at the position, but they’re well out of the Ravens’ price range.
Other available cornerbacks like Charvarius Ward or Donte Jackson could be great value signings at the right price, and it’ll be up to Mike Macdonald and other Ravens coaches to determine who fits best in the team’s defensive scheme.
Yet free agents aside, the Ravens’ tried-and-true team model of drafting and developing young players has served them well in the past, and this year’s secondary draft class possesses no shortage of wide-eyed talents.
Unless Anthony Averett miraculously decides to stay for cheap, the Ravens will more than likely pursue a playmaking corner of the future early in the draft this April.