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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Ravens could target edge rusher in 2022 draft

The Baltimore Ravens have a long history of outstanding edge rushers ranging from Peter Boulware to Mike McQueary and of course, Terrell Suggs. The position is clearly one that Baltimore places a premium on. That’s why they’ve used recent draft picks to select Jaylon Ferguson, Daelin Hayes and most recently Odafe Oweh.

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta looked to bolster the edge rusher position by agreeing to terms on a deal to bring Za’Darius Smith back to Baltimore after the Green Bay Packers released him. That deal fell apart and now the Ravens will turn to the draft.

Baltimore holds the No. 14 overall pick and should get a crack at an impact player to chase quarterbacks. 

“There are some good players. Typically, those guys go fast. We think there will be a run of those guys, probably in the Top 10. There might be a guy or two that falls down to us at [Pick] 14, potentially,” DeCosta said at a pre-draft press conference. 

Top players such as Kayvon Thibodaux and Aiden Hutchinson will be long gone by the time the Ravens pick. There are some mock drafts that have Baltimore selecting Florida State pass rush Jermain Johnson II withe their first round pick.

Johnson played one season at Florida State after transferring from Georgia. That one season resulted in an ACC Defensive Player of the Year Award. He tallied 70 total tackles, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles, two pass deflections, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. 

The Reese’s Senior Bowl was a coming out party for Johnson. He dominated the one-on-one portion of practice which carries over to team periods during the week. Seeing a player shine during Senior Bowl week is ultra-appealing to the Ravens who have placed an emphasis on selecting players from the annual college all-star event. 

Johnson attended the NFL Combine and continued to shine. Running a blazing 4.58 40-yard dash. 

Fortunately for Baltimore, this class is deep at pass rusher. Oweh was last year’s first-round pick out of Penn State. Another Penn State’s pass rusher, Arnold Ebiketie could be an option for the Ravens in the second round. 

“There are guys in the second, third and fourth rounds that we’re kind of lucky that we have the chance to look at some different players, meaning potentially some of these undersized 4-3 defensive ends really do fit us as outside linebackers. Our coaches are, right now, looking at those guys, scouring the country, going to workouts, going to Pro Days, and we’ll have a good strong board.”

Then there’s the wildcard.

Baltimore has 10 picks this year, including four in the first three rounds. They can afford to take a flyer on Michigan pass rusher David Ojabo. 

Ojabo blossomed into a first-round talent in one season as a starter at Michigan. He finished with 12 tackled for a loss, 11 sacks and five forced fumbles. Unfortunately, he tore his Achilles during Michigan’s pro day.

The injury will likely cost him most of the 2022 season. But there’s a chance he could reward a team that selects him.

“Unfortunately, one of the top guys and really an outstanding prospect, [David] Ojabo suffered an injury, which was unfortunate for us, unfortunate for the league and certainly most unfortunate for him,” DeCosta said. 

“With that being said, he suffered an Achilles. He should be back, and he should be ready to go. He’s a tremendous talent. You all saw what he did at Michigan this year opposite [Aidan] Hutchinson.”

There will be opportunities to bolster the pass rush. The question is, will the Ravens pick the right one.

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