The Baltimore Ravens have always opted for the proper approach when it comes to not only the draft, but to expectations for their rookies as well.
Focusing on the big picture instead of immediate needs, the Ravens rarely force a pick based on potential year-one impact, instead choosing players who offer the most potential over the full life of their rookie contract.
That was no different in this year’s draft, as no one pick stands out as a bona fide instant-impact player, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Realistically, a good draft pick is one in which the player reaches his full potential by the end of his rookie deal, not necessarily in year one or two.
Nonetheless, the Ravens are sure to still receive considerable help from the 2017 draft class this season, with the expectation that no rookie is guaranteed a starting job.
Let’s take a look at which Ravens rookies will provide the biggest impact in 2017.
1. Marlon Humphrey – Not exactly groundbreaking news to say that the first round pick will be the biggest contributor as a rookie. Humphrey is still far from a finished product, but he has enough coverage ability to start if needed. In a crowded set of cornerbacks that includes Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young and Brandon Carr, Humphrey will have to prove himself in training camp in order to crack the starting lineup. It would be no surprise, however, to see Humphrey unseat a player such as Carr and enter the starting rotation as a rookie.
2. Tim Williams – After Humphrey, Williams offers the most potential both in the short and long term for the Ravens. As one of the premier pass rushers of the 2017 class, Williams comes with off-field questions, but few such mysteries on the field. Williams is the quintessential pure pass rusher, as he figures to offer minimal contribution in run defense. But pass rush is what the Ravens need, and pass rush is what Williams will provide plenty of as a rookie.
3. Chris Wormley – Between the Bronson Kaufusi selection last year and the addition of Wormley, the Ravens are more than equipped to withstand the loss of Lawrence Guy at defensive end. Wormley is a lengthy athlete who is strong enough to set the edge and provide interior pass rush. Baltimore will likely take a defensive-end-by-committee approach this season, and Wormley falls squarely into that rotation.
4. Nico Siragusa – Easily Baltimore’s best day-three selection of the draft, it would not be a surprise to see Siragusa in the starting lineup early in his rookie campaign. If the Ravens move Alex Lewis to right tackle, Siragusa is the logical choice to step in at left guard. Even if Lewis remains at guard, Siragusa comes in as the top backup at both guard positions, meaning he will certainly hit the field at some point in 2017.
5. Tyus Bowser – With one of the highest upsides of the Ravens rookies, Bowser’s long-term outlook is as good as any of the draft picks. But his short-term impact may be limited, as he is a high-potential athlete who needs to become more well-rounded before he can consistently hit the field. When the Ravens selected Bowser, I compared the pick to the 2016 selection of Kamalei Correa: a player with plenty of potential, but not someone who will make as much of an initial impact as his fellow rookies.
6. Jermaine Eluemunor – As a premier athlete and versatile player at both guard and tackle, Eluemunor brings instant depth to the offensive line and should have more than enough upside to make the final roster. He likely will not hit the field much, if at all, as a rookie.
7. Chuck Clark – The biggest long shot of the draft picks to make the final roster, Clark may only make the team if an injury occurs during training camp. He could become a solid swing backup safety in time, but unfortunately may fall victim to a numbers game in the secondary. If Clark can impress in July and August and make the team, his year-one ceiling is as a special teams contributor.