Subscribe to our newsletter

The 14: Missed the Cut (With Room to Rise)

Daxton Hill Ravens Draft Central
Share
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Welcome back to The 14, a series exploring all of the Ravens’ options with the 14th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. On Tuesday, I presented my initial list of players worthy of Baltimore’s first-round selection. Today, I’ll reveal the rest of the players I considered, any of whom might find their way onto my list before Draft Day.

The 13 players I listed on Tuesday are all generally thought to be first-round prospects, but they’re not all consensus top-15 picks. Specifically, cornerbacks Andrew Booth Jr. and Trent McDuffie, my 12th- and 13th-ranked prospects for the Ravens, are expected to go in the second-half of the first round according to NFL Mock Draft Database’s Consensus 2022 Big Board and Grinding the Mocks’ Expected Draft Position Leaderboard. Throw in the 14th spot on my list left vacant by David Ojabo – whose injury is a reminder that players can still fall in the next month – and there’s clearly plenty of room for one or more of the following prospects to make a jump.

I’d like to at least mention Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, my QB1 in this year’s draft and a surefire top-15 talent. But the Ravens have a franchise quarterback – and a very good one at that – which isn’t changing anytime soon, as Lamar Jackson and Steve Bisciotti both cleared up this week. So, there’s zero sense in even considering Willis with this pick, though he’s an extremely exciting talent and certainly worth a top-15 pick for a team seeking a franchise QB.

After Willis, the rest of the players I considered fit quite nicely into pairs, plus one trio. (Where available, click the player name for James Ogden’s RDC Ravens-centric scouting report)

Note: while Tuesday’s players were definitely tiered and ranked, today’s groups are in a much looser order of my evaluative rankings.

Top Talent at a Devalued Position

 

Both of these players are among the best at their position, but that position and their role in the NFL may not be worth a top-15 draft pick. They narrowly missed out on my original list, but their potential will keep them in the running until Draft Day.

Devonte Wyatt is an excellent overall prospect and the most explosive interior defensive lineman in the draft, but he doesn’t offer enough upside or versatility to be worth the 14th pick, unlike his Georgia teammates Jordan Davis and Travon Walker. He lacks elite length and lacks power moves in his pass-rushing arsenal, despite the size and power to execute them well. He also only profiles as an interior lineman, limiting his versatility in Baltimore. If I’m going to draft a defensive lineman with a top-15 pick, I want a game-wrecker that opposing offenses have to plan around, and I’m not convinced that Wyatt is that guy.

Devin Lloyd excels in every role of a traditional inside linebacker, but he doesn’t come out of Utah as an eraser in pass coverage or an NFL-ready edge rusher. He’s a safe pick as a surefire future and longtime starter at inside linebacker, but he’d need to develop more pass-rushing and pass-coverage chops to be worth a top-15 pick and avoid being a Patrick Queen clone. At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, he’s certainly got the frame to do so, but his lack of elite speed and overall upside leaves me with too many questions at 14.

The Big WR Question

 

I’m planning to explore whether or not the Ravens should draft a wide receiver at 14 in plenty of detail next week, and these are the two I’ll focus on, both of whom would both bring something to Baltimore’s wide receiver room that it currently lacks.

Drake London is a 6-foot-5 skyscraper of a wide receiver whose power forward background shows up at the catch point. But even at that size, he’s still a shifty route runner who knows how to break the press and separate late in his routes. That agility shows up when he plays out of the slot and runs with the ball, even on screens and sweeps. London’s production in 2021 was insane before a broken ankle prematurely ended his season, which, along with his lack of top-shelf speed, are the remaining concerns about his NFL projection.

Burks is the other unique option the Ravens could pursue, as artfully laid out by James Ogden back in February. He’s a physical freak, with size, speed and strength that legitimately compare to that of Deebo Samuel, and Burks could pursue a similar role in the NFL with the right landing spot. But that needs to be a team that has a plan for Burks’ development, not just asking him to be Deebo, one of the most unique players in the NFL, as a rookie. I’m not sure that’s Baltimore, even with the benefits offered by Burks’ exceptional hands and contested catch ability as a pure receiver. He’s not a particularly refined route runner, so the Ravens would need to manufacture touches for Burks in an offense that’s best when the ball is in Lamar Jackson’s hands. Still, as an additional dual-threat to catch passes or take handoffs, he could open up the possibilities for the Ravens offense.

Questionable Fits in the Trenches

 

‘Build The Trenches’ has been a rallying cry of the Ravens’ fanbase this offseason, and these three players would do just that, though they may not be the best fit in Baltimore. But it’s possible every previously-mentioned lineman on both sides of the ball is gone by the 14th pick, leaving the Ravens with just these options.

Tyler Linderbaum has been frequently mocked to the Ravens given a perceived need at center and the Iowa standout’s status as one of the best center prospects ever. While he’d play well in Baltimore’s gap rushing scheme, he’s far more likely to hit his perennial All-Pro potential in a zone scheme. He’s also not a lockdown pass protector in one-on-one phone booth matchups, something that will become more important with the rise of interior pass rushers in the NFL. The Ravens seem comfortable with Patrick Mekari, so it doesn’t make sense to reach for a center here unless a switch to more zone is on the way.

George Karlaftis is an exceptionally strong defensive end who will find plenty of success in the NFL, but it’s unclear if he can do that in Baltimore’s 3-4 scheme. My early assessment is that he’s strong enough to play defensive end in a 3-4 and line up as an interior or edge pass rusher. He sets a strong edge but lacks elite instincts and block-shedding against the run, and would be a guaranteed liability in coverage. But I’m not sure that he’ll be able to excel and eventually master multiple roles in Baltimore’s defense. He might be a one-trick pony, but he’s the best power rusher in the class, and he played like a Raven at Purdue, making him an intriguing talent at 14.

Trevor Penning is another frequent projection to the Ravens with his powerful run blocking and nasty streak at left tackle earning him fans in Baltimore. But his technique is far too unrefined to be an early impact starter in the NFL, especially in pass protection. He’s just not good enough for a top-15 pick, unless the Ravens see an ideal fit and transition to right tackle. Even if Ronnie Stanley suffers a setback before the draft, forcing the Ravens to find a new left tackle, it would still make far more sense to trade up for one of the top three offensive tackles, rather than settle for Penning.

Too Low of a Ceiling

 

Both of these players embody the ‘Play Like a Raven’ ethos, but their ceilings at their positions are just too low to be a top-15 pick, though I would be happy to trade back for either player plus another Day 2 pick.

Daxton Hill is an ideal fit in Mike Macdonald’s defense after blossoming under the Ravens’ new defensive coordinator at Michigan in 2021. He can capably play outside or slot cornerback and single- or split-high safety with plenty of willingness to play the run. But he’s likely to remain a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none, especially without an elite frame or physicality. Hill is a willing tackler, but he doesn’t add enough to Baltimore’s existing secondary to merit a top-15 pick.

Nakobe Dean brings elite range, processing and intensity as a linebacker, with excellent instincts in coverage and run defense. He shoots gaps and covers space well, but his lack of length and overall size will limit him in the NFL. Georgia’s elite defensive line gave Dean tons of open routes to ballcarriers in college, something he can’t rely on in the pros. He can’t erase tight ends in coverage or beat offensive tackles off the edge, limiting his upside in an increasingly pass-happy NFL.

The Ultimate Zig

 

The Ravens are commonly said to “zig where other teams zag,” meaning that Baltimore is perfectly willing to go against conventional wisdom when necessary. The value of interior pass rush is skyrocketing in the NFL – I’ve emphasized that necessity for the Ravens – so I’m anticipating a ‘Blind Side’ effect, raising the value of interior pass protectors. Both of these players bring that to the table, plus versatility at offensive tackle in a pinch.

Zion Johnson is an exceptional pass protector at offensive guard, with strong hands, a firm base and the best mirror abilities of any interior lineman in the draft. He played center at the Senior Bowl and left tackle in 2020 plus an excellent spot start in 2021, giving him highly-valued positional versatility in Baltimore. I’d trust him to grow into an All-Pro interior lineman who can pass protect in a phone booth with the best of them.

Kenyon Green has unparalleled power and movement skills as an offensive guard, with technique that needs to get better but can be improved in the pros. He has quality tape at every position except center, but likely projects best as a guard. He’s not a refined pass-protector, but his elite physical traits provide a solid base and should lead to improvement at the next level. Still, the Ravens’ depth at guard and preference for a center are the reasons that Green is at the very bottom of my list.

Clearly, I’m not sold on any of these players for Baltimore’s 14th overall pick. But with additional evaluation, any of them could rise into consideration, with the possibility that my current top-15 locks could fall as well.

Starting next week, I’ll be diving into a series of topics – starting with an exploration of drafting a wide receiver – to uncover the Ravens’ optimal strategy with the 14th overall pick.

Mike Davis camp
Camp Notes

Offense Up & Down During Final Installs

Coming off their 21st straight preseason win on Thursday night, the Ravens had an up-and-down weekend of practice as the offense integrated what Greg Roman …

Read More →
Lions losing
Out To Lunch

Ravens, Tucker Get National Props

Losing is hard. Losing represents failure. Losing keeps score and reminds you that you weren’t good enough. Losing sits in your craw gnawing away at …

Read More →
Queen & Jackson at training camp practice
Camp Notes

Overall Impressions from Ravens Training Camp

Sunday’s wasn’t an overly eventful practice for the Baltimore Ravens. It was probably the slowest-paced practice they’ve had since the first couple of days. There …

Read More →
Lamar Jackson flex OTA
Street Talk

Avoiding the Hits

Lamar Jackson won’t be taking any hits in the preseason. The Ravens aren’t going to take any chances and will keep him sidelined for the …

Read More →
NFL Dates
Salary Cap

Ravens Roster & Cap Updates

Key Dates, Deadlines and Salary Cap Ramifications With the first Preseason game now behind us, it’s once again time to take a look at the …

Read More →
Ravens Camp Notes c/o Panacea Life Sciences
Camp Notes

Bombs Away

I assumed that today’s practice session at 1 Winning Drive might be a bit sloppy, undermined by a hangover of sorts from Thursday’s 23-10 preseason …

Read More →
Join our newsletter and get 20% discount
Promotion nulla vitae elit libero a pharetra augue