It was one of the most star-studded draft classes – on paper – for me in a long, long time, labeling the Baltimore Ravens and General Manager Eric DeCosta’s draft haul this past weekend as a “home run” would do it injustice. A draft in which Baltimore’s first four selections could very easily blossom into franchise cornerstones down the line, I have questions for the other 31 general managers as to how they consistently allow DeCosta to sit pat and select elite day 1 impact talent on what seems like an annual basis.
He’s the top player – by far – on my personal board and grabbing Kyle Hamilton with the No. 14 overall selection is flat out robbery. While teams shied away from the Notre Dame product due to his 40 time at the combine, it was a case of best player available for DeCosta, and slotting in Hamilton adjacent Marcus Williams, Chuck Clark, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters is an embarrassment of riches for what will be a highly contested race for the division crown. Hamilton is a do-it-all talent that will have an impact at every level of the defense and will prove to be the ultimate chess piece for Baltimore’s new look defense under Mike Macdonald. Just 11 selections after taking Hamilton, DeCosta’s trade of disgruntled wideout Marquise Brown to Arizona earned him the 25th overall pick and my bona fide “pound the table” prospect in the class in Iowa IOL Tyler Linderbaum. One of the most athletically-gifted pound-for-pound players in a talent pool stocked with freak measurables and movement skills, if there’s anyone in the class that I pegged to become future All-Pro selections, it’s Hamilton and Linderbaum. For DeCosta to take both on Day 1, he deserves a tip of the cap.
As Day 2 began, the board for the Ravens remained full of high-ceiling prospects in a window to compete today. Grabbing David Ojabo at No. 45 overall? Yeah, that’ll play. An edge defender with arguably the highest pass rush ceiling of any player in the class and a former lock in the top 15 picks before suffering a torn achilles at his pro day, Ojabo is expected to be full-go by October and should slot in nicely opposite Odafe Oweh. Ojabo is still relatively new to the game but when it all begins to click and pushing the pocket becomes second-nature, he could be a truly dominant force. From there, somehow, it only got better for DeCosta who was able to grab a physically imposing force in UConn’s Travis Jones in the third. Completely unblockable during his time as a Husky, seeing Jones live at the Senior Bowl showcased a man with Herculean strength and the skillset to become a game-wrecker in the run from day one. Add in the fact he’ll immediately get to learn from guys like Calais Campbell and Michael Pierce, and Jones’ depth will allow Baltimore’s hosses along the defensive front to stay fresh from week to week.
While Day 3 usually proves to be a snoozer for the common public, it’s where championships are ultimately won and lost. DeCosta’s additions on Saturday for the Ravens provided depth, competition and players that could work into substantial roles on either side of the ball, and on special teams come Week 1. After taking tight end Charlie Kolar in the fourth round, which, in my mind, was a reach on a talent that failed to move the needle at all this winter, doubling down with Coastal Carolina flex talent Isaiah Likely got DeCosta back on track. One of my favorite tight ends in the class, I expect Likely to quickly overtake Kolar on the depth chart and work into a nice amount of targets opposite Mark Andrews. Although Baltimore failed to add any wide receiver talent after trading Brown, Andrews and Likely at the tight end spot offer two big and athletic matchup nightmares for defenses to cover.
By far and away the top draft haul of any team in football, I remain extremely excited to see DeCosta’s class put on pads in the next few weeks. After grabbing immediate impact players at a multitude of spots, the Ravens’ rookie class could be the boost it needs to leapfrog the Bengals in a loaded AFC North.
- May 22, 2022
- May 20, 2022