As we stare at our office clocks, mindlessly try to entertain our children and perform every other important task we have with the cloud of the NFL’s opening week hovering over our every coherent thought, let’s dive in and do a little prognosticating on the 2022 Ravens.
Or, for this exercise, let’s predict some individual standouts who we’ll be praising at the end of the 2022 season.
Please note that these are my opinions only, and we should all worry about your mental stability if you use any of these predictions for gambling purposes.
MVP — Lamar Jackson
The tea leaves are reading good things for Lamar Jackson this year. The star quarterback did not miss extended time at camp this summer due to illness or injury or contract drama, and appeared “locked in” to the task at hand, to borrow a phrase from coach John Harbaugh.
While there are still some legitimate questions along the offensive line, the betting money is that it should at least be stronger than last season, and that might be just enough to see Jackson captivate the football world once again in 2022.
Offensive Player of the Year — Mark Andrews
This is kind of a silly award, as the MVP almost always comes from the offensive side of the ball. But let’s play along, and go with the guy who has arguably been the best player at camp this season, and was the Ravens best player in 2021 who does not kick a ball for a living. Mark Andrews has shined throughout the summer, getting open despite feverish attention from the defense, and winning contested catches on those reps that found him in tight coverage.
Assuming health, I am expecting a huge season from Andrews. He’s honestly that good.
Defensive Player of the Year — Marlon Humphrey
I so wanted to put Odafe Oweh here, as I expect the second-year linebacker to take a significant step this season. But Marlon Humphrey is a proud guy, and coming off an up-and-down season. He has been an active player in camp, jumping in to take reps against Andrews and Rashod Bateman, and being a vocal leader on the field. I think Humphrey plays a part in eight turnovers this season, via interception or his vaunted “Fruit Punch.”
Offensive Rookie of the Year — Tyler Linderbaum
If we’re lucky, Isaiah Likely makes this an interesting race, as that means Jackson got himself another reliable target in the passing game. Still, I think Linderbaum is the type of prospect whose floor is good, and his ceiling is All Pro.
Plus, he got the Marshal Yanda seal of approval, and I’m still a sucker for 73.
Defensive Rookie of the year — Kyle Hamilton
I don’t think this season will be all roses and crab cakes for Hamilton, as safeties tend to have a learning curve in this league, and Hamilton will be called on to perform a litany of tasks on the field. But he is smart, a good hitter and has seemingly improved throughout every phase of the offseason. My guess is this is a really good player by the end of the season, capable of stealing a win with a big play created by instinct and aggression.
Comeback Player of the Year — Marcus Peters
Oh, boy. The list of eligible candidates for this one is substantial, as injuries swept through this organization like a tsunami last year. I’m going with Marcus Peters for two reasons: he’s been practicing fairly regularly the past few weeks, which is a good sign; and he’s a turnover machine. That alone turns heads, and wins games.
If Ronnie Stanley is contending for this at the end of the year, pencil in the Ravens to the playoffs.