AFC North 2022 draft impact greatest for Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens

Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; A Cleveland Browns fan poses with No. 1 jersey at the Draft Stage exhibit at the NFL Draft Experience at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; A Cleveland Browns fan poses with No. 1 jersey at the Draft Stage exhibit at the NFL Draft Experience at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Browns
Apr 28, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the fourteenth overall pick to the Baltimore Ravens during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft at the NFL Draft Theater. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

What’s so great about the Ravens’ draft?

The Ravens had two first-round picks, but the second one came at a high cost, as they traded quarterback Lamar Jackson’s best friend, WR Marquis Brown, who pulled in 91 balls for 1,008 yards last season. That was not a free pick.

Still, this writer bawled out Ravens GM Eric DeCosta last season for diverting resources from the offensive line and investing too much in wide receivers, so it was the right move to trade a wide receiver and acquire center Tyler Linderbaum in the draft. But does it immediately improve the team to give up 10,00 receiving yards? Not sure if we need to cower in fear here.

Their pick at 14th overall was oversize safety Kyle Hamilton, at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, but who clocked only 4.59 seconds in the 40-yard dash. The instant that Hamilton was drafted, the first reaction from this reviewer was that that is too slow for a modern safety, but upon reflection it is not.

Consider that he will have to stop running backs Nick Chubb (Browns), Najee Harris (Steelers), and Joe Mixon (Bengals). He also has to cover top tight ends David Njoku (Browns), and this kid Pat Freiermuth of the Steelers looks like he is going to be really nasty for years to come. The Bengals are less threatening now that C.J. Uzomah is employed by the New York Jets, however.

The Ravens fan base likes to remind us that Ed Reed was one of the best to ever do it, and he did not have a 40-yard dash time worth talking about, either (4.57 seconds). That’s fair. Hamilton will probably fit in just fine. It makes sense, especially for this division.

He will be joined at some point by speed demon pass rusher David Ojabo, who is big enough to be a defensive end but clocked 4.55. That might not happen this season, however. Ojabo is recovering from Achilles surgery, but that should not have knocked him out of the first round, in this fan’s opinion.

He will be fine, and will be an outside linebacker for the Ravens nominal 3-4-4 scheme. Nowadays, it is possible he might play late in the season, but his contribution in 2022 will be substantially reduced. Once again, if our task is to evaluate immediate impact on the upcoming season, we are not going to worry that much about a kid with an ACL.

The Ravens had a much higher-than-normal injury rate last season. The Ravens were hurt by trading All-Pro Orlando Brown, the Son of Zeus, while losing All-Pro tackle Ronnie Stanley to injury. So, this season, the Ravens signed two free-agent linemen and drafted two more. They have remembered that their whole team concept is built around Lamar Jackson and the running game. Jackson is a threat to gain yards if they control the line of scrimmage. It looks like they will be back in 2022.

The Ravens usually get extra compensatory draft picks because they let players go via free agency. This year they were rewarded with two fourth-round picks for outside linebackers Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue. They also had a third-round pick Texans head coach David Culley. That’s how they get rich in the draft. It’s not dumb luck.

The Ravens’ draft was highlighted by drafting six players in the fourth round. They totaled 11 picks, and none in the seventh round. Readers of this space will recall that this author believes that an open roster spot is worth more than a seventh-round pick, because there is flexibility to audition several players in rapid succession and choose one that stands out. The Ravens’ scouting is on a par with any organization in the NFL, so there is every expectation that they have helped themselves in every phase this season, including special teams with the addition of punter Jordan Stout.

Yes, the Ravens had an impressive draft. No, it was not a transformative draft in one year.

However, if they simply stay healthy this season, they will be contenders, it’s as simple as that.

Round 1, Pick No. 14: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Round 1, Pick No. 25: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Round 2, Pick No. 45: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
Round 3, Pick No. 76: Travis Jones, DT, UConn
Round 4, Pick No. 110: Daniel Faalele, T, Minnesota
Round 4, Pick No. 119: Jayln Armour-Davis, CB, Alabama
Round 4, Pick No. 128: Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State
Round 4, Pick No. 130: Jordan Stout, P, Penn State
Round 4, Pick No. 139: Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina
Round 4, Pick No. 141: Damarion Williams, CB, Houston
Round 6, Pick No. 196: Tyler Badie, RB, Missouri

As for our rivals out east on I-76, they did not impress nearly as much.