We knew heading into the 2023 NFL draft that this class was not going to be like the others. The Baltimore Ravens are known for trade downs and compensatory picks, but they entered the draft with a stunning zero compensatory picks, and while the team said they tried to, they did not trade down.
So, the Ravens, the team known for winning the draft with quantity, had to rely on quality and nailing precise picks. This is not their typical strategy. It is way too early to write anything off, but it does look like that may be catching up to them as the depth of this draft class has struggled.
Is the Baltimore Ravens rookie draft class disappointing?
Let me be clear; this is not about Zay Flowers. Flowers has been everything as advertised and arguably more for the Ravens so far. If Flowers turns into an All-Pro or even just a strong number-one option, this draft class will be worth it. Not trading from Flowers for extra picks beats missing on all of the depth picks.
However, the depth picks have not looked good.
The Baltimore Ravens surprised many when they drafted Trenton Simpson. The team did not have a major need at linebacker other than looking ahead to Patrick Queen and his status. They preached that he was the best player available, but he was a faller at that point.
So far, the concerns from other teams were warranted. He never had a defined position in college and has been slow to react in the NFL. He missed the first preseason game with an injury and looked lost in the second game. He was one of the big strugglers, showing that it will take time for him to learn one position.
Right now, he is fifth in the linebacker depth chart. Even if he in a long-term bet, this is not the progression they wanted.
Tavius Robinson was next, and some saw him as a reach. However,Eric DeCosta compared him to Za'Darius Smith, saying that many would eat their words on his value. So far, he has been worse than Jeremiah Moon and Malik Hamm. Hamm is a rookie UDFA, so he is from the same draft class. He has outperformed the draft pick.
Kyu Blu Kelly has been worse than both. You can argue the Ravens' top five cornerbacks have been out with Marlon Humphrey, Rock Ya-Sin, Pepe Williams, Arthur Maulet, and Jalyn Armour-Davis. Still, Kelly is not on the first line; he is behind Brandon Stephens and Kevon Seymour. Beyond that, when he did get playing time, we quickly understood why he had not moved up. He may get cut as a rookie fifth round pick when you see that so many names are ahead of him.
Sala Aumavae-Laulu was supposed to be in the running to start at left guard. He had a great OTA session and came into training camp as a potential starter. He lost the first-team repetitions one week into training camp and never got them back. We saw in the preseason why, as he struggled through both games and clearly needs a lot of work.
Of course, Andrew Vorhees was drafted for the future and is not a major concern. Even for Aumavae-Laulu, just being in the competition could be an accomplishment, and his struggles only look bad in the perception of him competing to start.
Still, every Ravens draft pick outside of Zay Flowers has been pushed down the depth chart and has not found a way to climb up since training camp has started. That is a small concern.