There were several teams who had very impressive drafts on paper, but John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens take the cake once again.
It’s remarkable how fast a great rookie draft class can turn an NFL team around. Take the Dallas Cowboys, for example. After four straight seasons of failing to earn a winning record from 2010 to 2013, the front office was able to land Zach Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Anthony Hitchens with their first three selections in the 2014 NFL Draft.
A more recent example is the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals were on a streak of five dismal seasons in a row. Just one year after they selected Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, and Logan Wilson in the 2020 NFL Draft, their team made a Super Bowl appearance.
This year, I was thoroughly impressed by the selections several teams made. I loved that the New York Giants beefed up their trenches with two of the best overall prospects in the draft in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal. The Jets also did a terrific job loading up on talent as they landed Ahmad Gardner, Garrett Wilson, and Jermaine Johnson in the first round.
However, I think it was the Baltimore Ravens who took the cake once again in the NFL Draft. General manager Eric DeCosta has been brilliant since taking over as the chief decision-maker in 2019. His 2022 NFL Draft will probably be his best one yet.
How Ravens owned the 2022 NFL Draft
If there are talented players slipping in the draft, you better believe the Ravens have their eye on them. Baltimore kicked things off this year by snagging high-profile safety, Kyle Hamilton. The Notre Dame star fell further than originally expected in the draft (likely because of his 4.59 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine). However, Ravens weren’t afraid of taking him at pick 14.
Early in the 2021 season, Hamilton was considered a blue-chip prospect who could off the board in the top five picks. The NFL consensus draft board agreed.
While I was a big fan of the Ravens first selection, DeCosta really showed his brilliance with what they did next. Somehow, he was able to flip Marquise Brown — an undersized and inconsistent receiver entering a contract year — for the pick that became Tyler Linderbaum.
What a massive win for Baltimore! Not only did they avoid paying Brown a lucrative contract in an inflated WR market, but they were also able to essentially swap him for the best center prospect Pro Football Focus has ever graded. Linderbaum is undersized, but is ferocious as a run-blocker and should be a perfect fit with the Ravens.
Day three was every bit as impressive for Baltimore. Despite their next selection not coming until pick 45 overall, the Ravens stole edge defender, David Ojabo. The Michigan star would have been a lock top-15 pick if not for an Achilles injury he suffered during his Pro Day.
With their third-round pick, the Ravens stole DT Travis Jones — a player I believe should have been selected early in the second round. They also were able to land a promising pair of tight ends on day three in Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely in addition to drafting mammoth offensive tackle, Daniel Faalele.
Whether you like the Ravens or not, everyone has to admit that — at least on paper — Baltimore knocked it out of the park with their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft. Great drafting has helped them build one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league over the past several years.