Overtime Heroics’ countdown to the 2022 NFL Draft continues with a new mock draft. As the annual event, set to take place in Las Vegas between April 28th and April 30th, rapidly approaches, we look at how it could play out for the 32 teams involved.
Today, the Baltimore Ravens are in the spotlight. The Ravens are coming off their first losing season since 2015. While they got off to a roaring 8-3 start, sitting atop the AFC, they lost their final six games including four divisional games. Injuries undid the Ravens as four of the five All-Pros from the 2019 roster missed at least five games, and two combined to miss 33 of 34 games.
Entering the 2022 draft, the Ravens are loaded with valuable assets including a ridiculous five fourth-round picks. They have picks in the top half of the first three rounds, and they have a compensatory pick in the third round. All told, the Ravens have 10 draft picks, nine of which will be included today. Let’s begin.
This mock was completed using The Draft Network‘s simulator.
1.14 (14th Overall)
Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College
Positional value aside, Zion Johnson is one of the best players in the class. He is a plug-and-play option at left guard, and he would slide effortlessly between Ronnie Stanley and Patrick Mekari in Baltimore’s offensive line. Johnson does have experience playing left tackle, but he is more likely to play center than tackle at the NFL level. He took snaps as a center at Senior Bowl practices, but the Ravens should slide him in at left guard for the next decade.
With Johnson, the Ravens would be well on their way to a return to having an elite offensive line. Stanley is coming back after missing 16 games in 2021. Mekari, meanwhile, had a strong year at right tackle, but he will move back to center to accommodate Morgan Moses. Lastly, Kevin Zeitler was one of the NFL’s top pass-blockers last season. On paper, Baltimore would have five average or good starters along the line.
2.13 (45th Overall)
Travis Jones, IDL, Connecticut
The Ravens did re-sign Michael Pierce after he spent two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, but Travis Jones is more of a pass-rusher than Pierce. Jones’ best skill is his run defending, however, but the Ravens will need contingency plans for the eventual retirement of Calais Campbell. While Jones comes from a small school, he punched well above his weight, shining in one of the worst situations in college football.
The Huskies prospect has a reasonable upside as a pass rusher on the interior and learning from Campbell would be an excellent experience. Jones would be a versatile chess piece for Mike Macdonald to deploy in the trenches.
3.12 (76th Overall)
Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma
Nik Bonitto profiles as an outside linebacker in the Ravens’ 3-4 defensive front. He is an exceptional athlete, posting a 9.37 RAS as a defensive end and a 9.86 RAS as a linebacker. RAS stands for Relative Athletic Score, and it is on a 10-point scale. Bonitto straddles the line between outside linebacker and defensive end, but his 6-foot-3, 248-pound frame could be deployed in either role at times.
Bonitto is a solid run defender with a great motor. He sets the edge well, and he makes clean tackles. As a pass rusher, Bonitto uses his speed and quickness to beat tackles, but he needs to develop some counters. He even had some effective reps in both zone and man coverage.
3.36 (100th Overall)
Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia
While the Ravens do have the reigning All-Pro tight end, Jelani Woods has appeal as a developmental second tight end and foil to Mark Andrews. Woods is a fierce blocker who could learn technique from one of the NFL’s top run-blocking duos in Andrews and Nick Boyle. As a receiver, the Virginia tight end is new to the position, so the ceiling is limitless.
For Baltimore’s offense, having a seam-ripper like Woods would open up Andrews to venture into the slot. Woods currently does not have the development to work in the slot, but he would be an effective in-line tight end. He has good hands, and Lamar Jackson would love his 6-foot-7 frame on third downs and in the red zone.
As a bonus, Woods earned a perfect 10 in RAS. Only Zyon McCollum, Jordan Davis, and Troy Andersen matched this feat at any other position. Notable tight end RAS include Mike Gesicki‘s 9.97 and Vernon Davis‘ 9.94. Andrews posted just a 7.30.
4.05 (110th Overall)
Zach Tom, OL, Wake Forest
Speaking of athletes, Zach Tom also fits the bill. Regardless of his positional designation, Tom is – at worst – the owner of a 9.59 RAS (at tackle). As a center, he is a perfect 10. Tom played left tackle and center while at Wake Forest, but he could play any spot along the line. Tom pairs his off-the-charts athleticism with tremendous polish as a pass blocker. He is not exactly the mauling type as a run blocker, but he functions well in zone schemes.
Yes, the Ravens do run significantly more gap than zone in their rushing attack, but several of their pieces are better as zone-blocking linemen rather than gap-blocking linemen anyways. Tom should be seen as a chess piece rather than as a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Even as a swing lineman, Tom would be one of the most valuable pieces in the NFL.
4.14 (119th Overall)
Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB, Alabama
Jalyn Armour-Davis is more of a projection than a sure thing, but the traits are exciting. He only started one year at Alabama, and he has dealt with an assortment of injuries. However, he is a good athlete, and he showed flashes in both man and zone. He presses well, and he uses his length to swat balls away at the catch point. Armour-Davis ran a 4.39-second 40-time, and he plays with great physicality against the run and pass.
Armour-Davis likely profiles as a long-term No. 2 cornerback. He only had 699 snaps in college, however, so there is some necessary development upcoming. The physical tools are fully intact, though.
4.23 (128th Overall)
Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida
After both J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards went down with injuries, the Ravens had to tread water with the likes of Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman. Dobbins and Edwards are both back, but they will only be 12 months removed from ACL tears when the season begins. At the same time, Florida’s Dameon Pierce has plenty of experience in a running back by committee backfield, and he could do some extra heavy lifting early in the season to aid the veteran backs.
Pierce is a well-rounded back who excels as a pass protector. He was used extensively as a special teamer as well. Pierce is not a prolific pass catcher, but he has good hands, and he will likely be a better pro than he was at Florida. He would be yet another thumper juxtaposed by Lamar Jackson‘s electricity and Dobbins’ long speed.
4.34 (139th Overall)
Luke Fortner, IOL, Kentucky
Luke Fortner is a solid enough athlete, but his expertise is his intelligence. He played all three interior positions with his best play coming at center in 2021. Fortner moves well in space, and he would be right at home in Baltimore’s zone scheme. He works hard, and his interior versatility could help him keep a roster spot beyond his rookie deal.
He is likely not a Day 1 starter at center, despite his age (24 at the start of the season), but he showed good development in his first year of playing center at Kentucky. At the very least, he would compete as a swing guard or backup to Mekari as the Ravens’ center.
4.36 (141st Overall)
Damone Clark, LB, LSU
The Ravens dip into the LSU linebacker well here in selecting one of Patrick Queen‘s former teammates. Without a massive injury red flag (spine), Damone Clark could have found himself in the top 100 picks, but here he slips into the end of the second night. Clark will likely miss the entire 2022 season, but he should make a full recovery in time for 2023.
Assuming medicals check out, Clark is a great athlete at the position, and he could be a sideline-to-sideline playmaker and special teams contributor in 2023. The LSU product is a tackle machine, but he does become too focused on the ball carrier at times. To use a Madden analogy, he would have a high pursuit rating but a low awareness rating.
Today’s buzzwords are versatility and athleticism. All nine of the above players can fill multiple roles for the Ravens, and many of them are top-of-the-class athletes. Johnson would be a Day 1 starter with Jones and Bonitto becoming rotational pieces. The offensive line duo of Tom and Fortner would make for an excellent pair of swing pieces. In the meantime, Armour-Davis and Pierce could end up in larger roles than their draft picks suggest just because the incumbent stars are returning from injuries.
However, the elephant in the room is: How exactly will the Ravens make all nine of these picks? In all likelihood, the Ravens will package some of their picks together to move up in the draft. They could also slide down from No. 14, but it seems unlikely that the Ravens will use all five of their picks in the fourth round. They could look to gather more resources for the 2023 draft, or they could have their eyes set on moving into the top 100 on multiple occasions in this draft.