The Baltimore Ravens were apparently one pick away from drafting their first wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft when their division rivals beat them to the punch.
With pick No. 139 in the fourth round, the Ravens were set to take Memphis’ Calvin Austin, a speedy wideout with similar traits to Marquise Brown.
According to Pro Football Talk’s Peter King, who was in the draft room on Day 3, Baltimore was ready to pull the trigger on Austin, but things just didn’t go their way.
"“Austin wasn’t a must-have. But he was the next target. He was Baltimore’s guy. Then, over the tinny speaker, news that the Steelers were picking wide receiver Calvin Austin, Memphis. “Gotta be kidding me,” someone blurted out as the Ravens began to process it.”"
At the very least, the Ravens were actively looking to boost their wide receiver corps, and Calvin Austin was likely the closest they came to taking any wideout prospect this draft.
Some argued that Baltimore could have picked Austin earlier with pick No. 130 instead of picking punter Jordan Stout, but the team was worried Stout would get nabbed by another team — specifically, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Cincinnati Bengals, both of whom were reportedly sniffing around for a new punter.
The Bucs had pick No. 133 and the Bengals had pick No. 136, so the Ravens took Stout, the only punter they wanted in the draft, at No. 130.
Baltimore Ravens continue prioritizing value over need in 2022 NFL Draft
Still, seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers take their favored wideout prospect just one pick ahead of them no doubt felt like a hit to the gut.
Rather than reach for another receiver at this point, the Ravens analyzed the situation well and stayed true to their “best player available” strategy.
"DeCosta had to think now. He had open trade offers with Kansas City and Jacksonville, and he could pull the trigger on either. He didn’t love his options here. But his expression didn’t change. Harbaugh’s expression didn’t change, nor did Newsome’s. These things happen in the draft. They pondered alternatives….”How about Likely?” Harbaugh said to offensive coordinator Greg Roman."
With a whopping six fourth-round picks in this year’s draft, the Ravens had many chances to trade with teams to move up or down the board. Per King, five teams called the Ravens in 20 minutes for the team’s last two fourth-rounders; one NFC team offered two sixth-round picks for either pick No. 139 or No. 141.
But Eric DeCosta held onto the original picks, using the last two to shore up the team’s tight end and cornerback unit. Let the record show that Baltimore had indeed targeted a promising receiver prospect, but the Steelers narrowly beat them to the chase.
Such are the unexpected turns of the NFL Draft, and the Ravens ultimately played their cards the best they could.