Sunday, October 2, 2022

Ravens seven-round mock draft (Version 1.0): Finding help for the offensive line and secondary

Ravens seven-round mock draft (Version 1.0): Finding help for the offensive line and secondary

With the NFL scouting combine two weeks away, the start of free agency four weeks away and the first round of the NFL draft 10 weeks away, the Ravens’ big board is a work in progress. But you don’t need Eric DeCosta’s keycard to know the team has some holes to fill and picks to spend.

The Ravens are expected to have 10 selections in April’s draft, including four in the first three rounds. If DeCosta can’t address the team’s needs in free agency — offensive line, defensive line, secondary — he should have plenty of draft capital to help bolster a team coming off a disappointing 8-9 season.

It’s hard to say whom the Ravens might favor, but it’s not hard to imagine the paths they might take. With the help of Pro Football Focus’ mock draft simulator, here’s a look at 10 potential picks, as well as some notable players off the board and snubs at each draft slot. (Because compensatory picks have yet to be awarded, the draft order after the second round is not yet finalized.)

First round (No. 14 overall): Washington CB Trent McDuffie

In the AFC, the Ravens have to contend with Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert. In the division, they have to face Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ elite wide receiver trio twice a year through at least 2023. With Marlon Humphrey coming off a disappointing 2021 and Marcus Peters entering the final year of his contract, it’s not a bad idea to invest in another high-end cornerback. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound McDuffie, a three-year starter at Washington, is considered a low-risk pick at a vital position. He tackles well, impresses in press coverage and allowed a passer rating of 49.7 over his final two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.

Just missed: Cincinnati CB Ahmad Gardner. Snubbed: Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum.

Second round (No. 44): Minnesota OT Daniel Faalele

Imagine Orlando Brown Jr., but bigger. According to his Senior Bowl measurements, the Melbourne native is about as tall (6-8) as Brown was and about 40 pounds heavier (387 pounds) than Terrence Cody was entering the NFL draft. Playing exclusively at right tackle, Faalele allowed one sack, two quarterback hits and five hurries last season, according to PFF, the fewest pressures for any blocker with at least 280 pass-blocking snaps. Faalele doesn’t have great balance or flexibility, but his massive frame, nimble feet and steady improvement suggest he can be an early-impact starter on a Ravens line that needs to better protect Lamar Jackson.

Just missed: Florida State EDGE Jermaine Johnson II. Snubbed: Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt.

Third round (No. 78): Kentucky EDGE/DL Josh Paschal

The Good Counsel product finished his fifth season at Kentucky as the highest-rated edge rusher in the Southeastern Conference — even higher than Alabama star Will Anderson, the potential No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft. The 6-3, 278-pound Paschal doesn’t have jaw-dropping production (15 tackles for loss and 5 sacks in 12 games last season) or elite bend for a pass rusher, but neither did Za’Darius Smith, another versatile former Kentucky standout. Paschal’s explosiveness off the snap, strong hands and positional flexibility would fit well in a Ravens defensive front that expects run-stopping acumen but needs more pass-rush juice.

Just missed: Connecticut DT Travis Jones. Snubbed: Memphis G Dylan Parham.

Third round (No. 102): Ohio State TE Jeremy Ruckert

Mark Andrews is among the NFL’s most dangerous receivers, but for an offense that relies so heavily on two-tight-end sets, he needs a more dynamic running mate. That could still be Nick Boyle, a ferocious blocker and reliable catcher who, because of injuries, played just 95 offensive snaps last season. Or it could be someone like Ruckert, a physical, 6-5, 250-pound tight end who spent most of his career at Ohio State as an in-line player. Ruckert wasn’t a prolific receiver in college — he had career highs of 26 catches and 309 yards last season — but he’s considered a solid athlete with a good feel for finding the soft spots in zones.

Just missed: Arizona State C Dohnovan West. Snubbed: Georgia ILB Quay Walker.

Fourth round (No. 107): Illinois S Kerby Joseph

After an anonymous first three years at Illinois, where he bounced around from position to position, Joseph broke out at safety last season. He had five interceptions in 12 games and allowed just nine catches on 19 targets for 134 yards and two touchdowns, according to PFF, earning first-team All-Big Ten Conference honors. With a strong showing in Senior Bowl practices, the buzz grew even louder. The big question for the 6-0, 200-pound Joseph — and for the Ravens, who needs a ballhawk in the back end — is whether he’s fast enough to make plays as a deep-lying safety.

Just missed: Auburn S Smoke Monday. Snubbed: Oklahoma G Marquis Hayes.

Fourth round (No. 116): Oklahoma G. Marquis Hayes

With the Ravens’ commitment to rebuilding their offensive line this offseason, their investment in the draft probably won’t stop at one pick. Kevin Zeitler is locked in at right guard, but with his 32nd birthday nearing and the team’s uncertainty on the left side, DeCosta could take a guard in his fourth straight draft. Hayes looks the part: 6-4, 318 pounds, thick build. He started at left guard for three straight years at Oklahoma, raising his season-ending grade PFF grade each time. Hayes is fluid enough as a puller and shows good processing in pass protection. He allowed five sacks over the past three seasons, however, and quick-twitch pass rushers can make him look sluggish.

Just missed: LSU G Ed Ingram. Snubbed: BYU RB Tyler Allgeier.

Fourth round (No. 125): Nebraska DB/LB JoJo Domann

The Ravens’ pass defense struggled everywhere last season, but especially over the heart of the field. According to Football Outsiders, only the Jacksonville Jaguars fared worse at defending throws over the middle. The 6-0, 226-pound Domann, something of a tweener prospect, could step in as a dime linebacker and help the Ravens right away. At Nebraska, he moved over from safety to outside linebacker before the 2019 season and played the bulk of his snaps in the slot. Domann allowed 32 completions on 39 targets last season, but for just 4.4 yards per target, helping him hold opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 63.8. He was impactful elsewhere, too, posting 72 tackles (nine for loss) and two sacks.

Just missed: Virginia Tech G Lecitus Smith. Snubbed: Central Michigan OL Luke Goedeke.

Fifth round (No. 140): Cincinnati ILB Darian Beavers

If the Ravens believe Patrick Queen is best suited as a weak-side inside linebacker, they’ll need another young middle linebacker in the pipeline. Malik Harrison’s playing time fell off last season, and the 32-year-old Josh Bynes can help out for only so long. The 6-4, 252-pound Beavers was a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker, after finishing with 102 tackles (11½ for loss), 4½ sacks and an interception in 14 games. With his big frame, Beaver is limited in man-to-man coverage and doesn’t project as a three-down linebacker. But he’s a stout run defender with a football IQ that helps him stay a half-step ahead.

Just missed: Virginia Tech OT Luke Tenuta. Snubbed: Georgia RB James Cook.

Fifth round (No. 141): Georgia RB James Cook

JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill are all returning from season-ending injuries, and Ty’Son Williams never found a consistent role in the offense. Depending on their interest in the free-agent market, that could be the push the Ravens need to add another running back. Cook, the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings star Dalvin Cook, would give the offense a speedy, pass-catching threat out of the backfield. He torched Michigan in the College Football Playoff semifinals, finishing with four catches for 112 yards, including a 53-yard grab on a vertical route. As a runner, the 5-11, 190-pound Cook averaged at least 6 yards per carry in all four of his seasons at Georgia.

Snubbed: Cincinnati RB Jerome Ford.

Sixth round (No. 193): Boston College C Alec Lindstrom

If the Ravens can’t re-sign Bradley Bozeman, they’ll need to add another center to the mix this offseason. Trystan Colon has proven himself a dependable reserve, appearing in 14 games over his first two seasons, but Patrick Mekari’s solid work at right tackle could keep him away from his old job inside. The 6-3, 294-pound Lindstrom allowed just three sacks and four hits over his three years as a full-time starter at Boston College, according to PFF. The younger brother of Atlanta Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom, Alec likely projects as a developmental prospect. With his lack of play strength, Lindstrom could struggle with a power-blocking scheme like the Ravens’.

Just missed: Texas DL T’Vondre Sweat. Snubbed: Oklahoma EDGE Isaiah Thomas.

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