After an injury-plagued 2021 season, the Baltimore Ravens have many needs to address. With Baltimore picking at 14th overall, will the players they want be in reach?
The Baltimore Ravens may be on the outside looking in on a premier difference-maker, at least for the first round (in terms of value) if they stay put with the 14th overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. It is clear this draft has more depth at a few positions later in the first round into day two of the draft.
With the lack of top-tier talent overall and with a pick outside of the top ten, Baltimore may be enticed to trade up if a top edge rusher or cornerback, or even offensive tackle falls past the top 5-10 selections.
Assuming that the top three edge rushers (Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Travon Walker) and top two offensive tackles (Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu) are all gone in the top ten, that leaves the top two cornerbacks (Ahmad Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr.). But those corners, along with the mentioned edges and tackles, are likely gone by the time the Ravens pick as well, making it tough to project realistically who will be available by the time the 14th pick comes around.
The addition of potential quarterbacks, wide receivers, and safety Kyle Hamilton going prior to this pick will force another good player to potentially fall and could be seen as the major wild cards.
Baltimore Ravens: First Round 2022 NFL Draft Targets
The positions that Baltimore will need to address early are offensive line (either tackle or center), defensive line, edge rusher, linebacker, and cornerback. Those positions can be considered as their top five needs and the Ravens may need to trade back if the top guys are not available for their selection.
With the offensive lineman likely available here, I think this pick (if there is no trade) would lean towards defense somewhere in the front seven or in the secondary. But here are some options the Baltimore Ravens could have that are realistic here at tackle and/or center if Baltimore plans to pick one early.
Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross will likely not be available by the time the Ravens pick in the first round. However, if Baltimore wants insurance for Ronnie Stanley and possibly the best pass protector at left tackle, he might be worth trading up for if he falls a bit. Even though Cross comes from the air raid offense and may not be the best scheme fit right away, experience in the run game might be the issue, not the talent since he is very young (21). Cross could develop and start at left tackle till Stanley is fully healthy and then move over to the right side.
The offensive tackle from Northern Iowa Trevor Penning is a nasty run blocker but needs development in pass protection. He does have the physical size and athleticism you would want for an offensive tackle, but the gap between the competition he faced at college to what he will be dealing with in the NFL is certainly a question mark. Penning fits the offensive scheme but tackle may not be the most pressing need on the team since Baltimore did sign veteran Morgan Moses in free agency.
However, you could say that this doesn’t pigeonhole them to address offensive tackle early but if the Ravens do take one, they aren’t forced to start right away and can learn from the veterans that are on the roster. Baltimore tried to address the right tackle spot last year and veteran Alejandro Villanueva, who they signed in free agency last season, performed well below expectations and retired this offseason. Protection for Lamar Jackson, especially at tackle, was a major weak link for the offense last year so Baltimore should look to improve in that area, whether that is day one or two in the draft.
Also, many reports recently are saying that Stanley is on the right path from rehab so a backup left tackle that may have to switch to the right side, especially one that needs a lot of work, may not be the way they end up going with this pick. Penning does fit their demeanor though more than Cross, and I also would not be surprised if there is a run on tackles early and both get taken before the 14th pick. But maybe they feel like they could take Penning later since some don’t view him as a top 15 selection and trade back.
Even though interior offensive linemen aren’t valued that high usually, someone who can play multiple positions (especially guard/center) in a pinch and can start there is a nice skillset to have for an offensive line prospect. Both Zion Johnson (Boston College) and Kenyon Green (Texas A&M) could be deemed as versatile for different reasons, but they might be more trade-back candidates.
Same with Tyler Linderbaum, who is deemed as the best center in this draft coming from Iowa. As of late, his stock seems to be dropping, most likely due to his size and arm length. Similar to Creed Humphrey last year, whoever needs a pure center will get a steal with Lindenbaum if he does fall. The Ravens don’t seem to be the best fit for them, as he would be better off in a zone run scheme compared to what Baltimore does with their gap run scheme on offense.