With the 2022 NFL Draft just a little more than a week away, the Baltimore Ravens have several needs that need to be fulfilled if they wish to compete for a Super Bowl in the upcoming season.
Here are the needs that they should consider addressing in the draft and who they should consider acquiring.
1. The Ravens must address edge rusher
Perhaps one of the Ravens’ greatest weaknesses last season was their inability to get to the quarterback. According to ESPN Analytics, the Ravens finished 14th in team pass rush win rate at 41%.
They were tied for 21st in the NFL with 34 sacks. Tyus Bowser led the team in sacks with seven (7) while the young Odafe Oweh was second with five (5).
The Ravens could certainly use some more firepower as far as pass rushers go, especially with Justin Houston still a free agent. The issue was thought to have been solved when Baltimore had an agreement with former Raven Za’Darius Smith. Smith, however, had a change of heart and ultimately signed with the Minnesota Vikings.
The free-agent market is fairly barren. The aforementioned Houston is still available. Other options include Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram III, and Jerry Hughes among others.
Based on what is available on the free-agent market, it seems it would be to the Ravens’ benefit to try and improve their pass rush through the draft.
Top pass rushers Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux (although his stock is falling), and Travon Walker are likely to be long gone before the Ravens make their pick at 14. The Ravens could address their needs by drafting FSU’s Jermaine Johnson or Purdue’s George Karlaftis in the first round.
Once considered to be an early-to-middle first-round pick, Michigan’s David Ojabo could slide to the late first round or even the second round. Second-to-third-round targets could also include Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto, Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie, or Kentucky’s Josh Paschal.
An intriguing late-round/small-school prospect to consider could be Coastal Carolina’s Jeffrey Gunter who had a productive season with 6.5 sacks and 10 TFLs. Jackson State’s James Houston and Framingham State’s Joshua Onujiogu could also be some small school standouts who could be had as rookie free agents.
This is considered to be a deep class of pass rushers and an impact player could seemingly be found in almost any round. The Ravens have had pre-draft meetings with UAB’s Alex Wright and Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Wright was given a third-round grade by Dane Brugler in his ‘The Beast’ Draft Guide (subscription required). He led his team in sacks with seven (7), TFLs with 7.5, and forced fumbles with two (2).