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2022 NFL Draft: 3 things Ravens fans should know for round 1

Chris Schisler

The 2022 NFL Draft is tonight! What are the things that you have to understand before you wait for the Ravens’ picks (and all the other selections?) Let’s get into this.

1. This isn’t your typical NFL Draft

Every NFL Draft is different, but this one could get absolutely bonkers. There’s no hype for the quarterbacks. The premium talent is a little harder to come by and the middle is packed tightly together. This draft honestly feels harder to predict than any year in recent memory. There’s serious steam for Travon Walker going number one overall, but Aidan Hutchinson had that spot locked down for months. Either way, we think we’re starting out with an edge rusher.

There are good wide receivers, but nobody can seem to agree on any of them. Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Drake London, Treylon Burks, and even Jahan Dotson could all go in the first round. The order, who the heck knows. These should be the guys, though Christian Watson and Skyy Moore have been getting first-round love as well. The excitement really isn’t about the typical skill positions here. It’s edge rushers, offensive linemen, and cornerbacks. The biggest star power may actually belong to Kyle Hamilton, and he’s a safety.

If the NFL goes ga ga for quarterbacks tonight they really are forcing it. Malik Willis belongs in the first round – you want that first-year option. Outside of that quarterbacks should sit on the sideline and the NFL has a bad habit of manufacturing QB talent that isn’t there. If more than two quarterbacks are taken here, somebody reached hard.

2. Value is the name of the game (And that can be frustrating)

The number one thing you want in the draft is to walk out with the courage of your convictions. Eric DeCosta wants to leave this draft knowing he made the team better. The only way to do that is to trust the process and stay true to your team-specific board. You have to be a slave for value, you can’t get excited and do something that works against your process.

The 14th spot is a horrible place to be for the Ravens. It would actually behoove them to be six or seven spots down, where they normally are. Because the premium talent is all that they need (Edge rushers, Offensive tackles, and cornerbacks) and because there is a stiff drop-off after the first wave at these positions, 14 is kind of late to the party. It’s increasingly likely that the Ravens will either take the best player available or force themselves into a slight reach.

Here’s a perfect example. Say the top four edge rushers, the top two corners and both of the elite tackles are off the board at 14. Say the options are Tyler Linderbaum, Trevor Penning, Andrew Boothe Jr., or Jordan Davis. Now say, you don’t value any of them with the 14th spot but would have more comfort taking any of them at 20. Trading back becomes the most valuable option. even if you could live with one of those picks.

This is a draft where there are only so many sure thing home run picks. At 14 you have to get the value that makes a difference. If you can’t do that, make a trade. What if you want the Ravens to trade up though? Well, then do it. Just remember the heart of this class is in the middle rounds and that’s where the Ravens have the most draft picks.

3. Wide receiver isn’t off the table:

The NFL Draft has multiple approaches. The Ravens have always been cozy with the best player available model. Wide receiver may just be the position that offers them the best player available with the 14th pick. On my personal board, Chris Olave is the third-ranked player. I have Drake London at 12 and Garrett Wilson at 13. Should the Ravens take any of these players, I really don’t want to hear any whining. We just watched the Bengals have a surplus of wide receiver talent take them to the Super Bowl. I want some of that.

Next Post: 2022 NFL Draft Prospects that scream Ravens

Marquise Brown hasn’t really proven that he’s the number one, a core franchise player to build around. If Brown isn’t the future at the position, give Rashod Bateman an exciting partner in secondary crime. Why not. The Ravens don’t need to take a wide receiver in the first round but it would be hard to argue with, should they make that call at 14.

 

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

2022 NFL Draft Prospects that scream Ravens

By Chris Schisler

The 2022 NFL Draft is basically here. Soon I’ll be having my customary Peanut M&M’s and watching the draft with a few Bold Rocks and all is good with the world. While you may have your annual draft traditions, you’re probably not equipped with your big board and position rankings ready to go, That’s where guys like me come into the picture.

Today we’re going to take a look at the players that just scream Ravens. These are the prospects that would surprise not one soul in the Ravens Flock or in the football world if they ended up in Baltimore. The most talked-about player in this category has been Jordan Davis. Davis is an unbelievable prospect in the sense that almost nobody has ever been built like him.

At the NFL Combine, Davis measured as a 6-6 345 pound man. He’s massive. While he’s not quite the dancing bear that Haloti Ngata was, he has the unrefined explosiveness that gets results. Davis has a quick explosion out of his stance, he gets a lot done with each stride and rip. He needs to make more of himself as a pass rusher, but NFL teams are certainly wondering if he can have an Aaron Donald-like impact in the NFL.

While drafting Davis isn’t my totally ideal scenario, the upside makes this in play. The Ravens have to look at defensive linemen quite seriously. It’s one position group that made one of the smallest impacts last season. A pick that makes perfect sense in the second round would be Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey. Winfrey is a 6-4 defensive lineman with a 290-pound build. He’s a bit more of a knife into the backfield kind of tackle but he gives you all the two-gap space-eating goodness to go with it.

Trench warfare needs to be improved on both sides of the ball. One center that I think would work incredibly well in Baltimore is Luke Fortner. This is a big-bodied Bradley Bozeman replacement that could come at a great value. I have Fortner as the 52nd best player in this draft class, but I bet in actuality he can be gotten in the third round.

There’s been a ton of talk about Trevor Penning being in play with the 14th overall selection. Penning is a small school product but a big-bodied bruiser. While he would add a mean streak to the offensive line, he’s never really been, my guy. This is a take I hold firmly at the 14th overall spot.  He’s a bit more of a project than most people seem to think and he’s not very polished. If the Ravens want an offensive tackle, the realistic fit I see most is Bernard Raimann. He’s a solid technician of an offensive tackle from Minnesota. This reminds me of the Le’Veon Bell vs. Mark Ingram thing. The Ravens typically go substance over flash. Either way, they’d have to trade back for either player to work for me.

Cornerback is a position that the Ravens can surely justify being aggressive with. Have you seen the passing attack of the Cincinnati Bengals? No corner screams Ravens more than Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. He’s an aggressive corner with a Marcus Peters-style swagger that would fit right in. If that doesn’t happen, Kyler Gordon out of Washington is a great option. He’s just so tough and scrappy that you get “Play Like a Raven” vibes.

Then there’s Quay Walker. Walker is a linebacker from Georgia who has never seen a hit he didn’t want to make. He’s tough and he’s a thumper but he has enough athleticism to be a starting linebacker next to Patrick Queen. That screams Ravens.

Finally on my list is Romeo Doubs, a wide receiver from Nevada. Doubs has that Anquan Boldin-like fight for the ball thing going that really works for Baltimore. Find me anything with more staying power than Ravens fans looking for that. You can’t.

I know it’s been a while guys. Thanks for hearing me out. Let’s get it Ravens Flock!

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Ravens NFL Draft spotlight: Evan Neal OT, Alabama

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have the 14th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and the offensive line is at the forefront of their draft needs. It seems like a good place to start our draft coverage is with a look at one of the big guys coming into the NFL. Today we take a look at Evan Neal, the big left tackle from Alabama.

NFL Draft prospect: Evan Neal

Neal is 21 years old and he’s got a mammoth build. The first thing that pops into my head as I started studying him is how much he’s built like Orlando Brown Jr., and how perfect of a fit he could be with the Ravens. This is a 6’7 prospect weighing in at about 350 pounds. It’s safe to say that he has the things that you can’t coach.

Neal has very proactive hands as a pass protector, and his length gives defensive ends fits. His length and reach are elite traits and his hand placement is impressive. Getting inside leverage against Neal is an uphill battle. Neal does a tremendous job anchoring and sinking his hips. The only way through Neal is around him. Getting through him takes a bull rush few players possess, getting inside of him is a hard mission.

For the most part, Neal’s footwork is solid. It’s not elite footwork, he’s not Ronnie Stanley and he’s not an explosively quick prospect like Rashawn Slater was a year ago. This is an old fashion monster on the outside of the offensive line. He can swallow up pass rushers with his size and he has great mirroring skills, he’s hard to fool.

Minor Concerns:

He’s a typical first-round prospect from Alabama in the sense that while he’s not perfect you have a good idea of what you’re going to get. The knocks on Neal aren’t deal-breakers. He’s a heavy mover and while he’s decently athletic, it’s an awkward athleticism. Sometimes he misses his target as a run blocker and it would be nice to see him be more of a mauler in the run game.

Neal’s kick-slide is a bit stiff and could get him more ground. Neal plays at an inconsistent pad level, at times he’s a little too upright. Neal is kind of the opposite of Alex Leatherwood was last year coming into the draft from Alabama. Leatherwood was a very experienced and polished tackle prospect but could have used a little more length and things you can’t coach. Neal has unbelievable measurables but needs some polish.

Could the Ravens draft Neal?

The Ravens could be in play for Neal. It very much depends on the way the draft board breaks down and who picks up the most momentum at the tackle position. Last year two offensive tackles went before the 14th pick. Alex Leatherwood and Christian Darrisaw fell a bit later though. If Neal enters the draft considered the third best tackle (Which isn’t out of the realm of possibility) the Ravens could have a good shot at the Alabama product.

One thing to note is that every draft is different. In 2020 four offensive tackles were off the board before the 14th overall pick. In 2019 there was only one offensive tackle taken in the top 20 selections. It’s going to be fun to get to know the offensive tackles in the 2022 crop.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens coaching staff: 2021 exit assessment

Neal would be a common-sense replacement to Orlando Brown Jr.. a player Eric DeCosta didn’t skillfully replace for the 2021 season. Neal isn’t the same player. Brown was a more brutal run blocker coming into the league and Neal is a little more natural of a pass blocker. That’s the player comp I keep coming back to though, and if I’m right, the Ravens have to be interested in this prospect.