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Ravens Insider: Grading the Ravens’ three most recent drafts, from Rashod Bateman to Andrew Vorhees


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Different drafts serve different purposes for the Ravens as they persist with their mission to contend every season. Last year, with no second-round pick and only six picks total, general manager Eric DeCosta went looking for bets that might pay off in 2024 or 2025. Going into this year, DeCosta has made it plain that he sees the next two pick-rich drafts as major opportunities to restock his roster depth.

As we guess how DeCosta might go about that mission, it’s useful to look at his recent past as a drafter. Which picks did he nail? Where were his blind spots? Did the Ravens get what they needed out of each draft? With that in mind, let’s review every one of the team’s picks and every one of its drafts as a whole going back to 2021.


Rashod Bateman (Round 1, pick 27)

Bateman was a durable, productive pass catcher at Minnesota, praised for his attention to detail as a route runner and capable of busting free downfield. He was expected to fit seamlessly with Marquise Brown to give Lamar Jackson an exciting set of young targets. Over three seasons, we have seen all the talent that put Bateman in this spot, but his rookie totals of 46 catches and 515 yards remain career highs, in part because of terrible injury luck and in part because his chemistry with Jackson has yet to click consistently. Data showed Bateman routinely separating from defensive backs last season, but he did not see increased targets and finished with just one touchdown catch. DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh have said they expect a major leap from Bateman this season, and the Ravens backed up those statements by signing him to an extension through 2026. Grade: C

Odafe Oweh (Round 1, pick 31)

With a pick they obtained by trading starting right tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the Ravens took one of the draft’s most spectacular physical talents. The two numbers everyone knew about Oweh? Zero sacks in his final season at Penn State and the 4.36-second 40-yard dash he ran at 6 feet 5 and 257 pounds. In reality, he has been neither boom nor bust over three seasons in Baltimore. The Ravens probably hoped for more than 13 sacks in 45 games, but Oweh’s underlying pressure numbers are better than that, and last season was his best. He’s a candidate to break out, much as his pal, Justin Madubuike, did in 2023. The Ravens face a vexing decision on his fifth-year option. Grade: B-

Ben Cleveland (Round 3, pick 94)

Harbaugh gushed about this pick, believing the Ravens had obtained a perfect inside mauler to clear space for their runners. Cleveland has struggled to get on the field, however, because of injuries, lackluster conditioning and subpar mobility. To his credit, he has held up fairly well when called to duty, and he will have a real chance to start at guard in the last season of his rookie deal. Grade: C-

Brandon Stephens (Round 3, pick 104)

Stephens’ versatility and pugnacious style made him an intriguing developmental prospect for the secondary, but the converted running back was an obscurity to many draft watchers. Stephens blossomed in his third season, erasing fears over the team’s lack of secondary depth by seizing a starting cornerback job and delivering above-average performance. He will enter 2024 as a starter at a premium position with a chance to earn a tasty deal next offseason. Grade: A-

Ravens vs. Lions
Ravens' Brandon Stephens, top, breaks up a pass intended for Lions' Amon-Ra St. Brown in the second quarter.
Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun
Ravens cornerback Brandon Stephens blossomed in his third season. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)

Tylan Wallace (Round 4, pick 131)

Pundits and fans loved Wallace as a potential value play at wide receiver coming off a productive career at Oklahoma State. He didn’t play much his first two seasons but fought his way off the roster bubble last summer and made one of the most exciting plays of 2023 with his walk-off punt return against the Los Angeles Rams. Grade: C+

Shaun Wade (Round 5, pick 160)

Once regarded as a potential first-round pick based on his decorated career at Ohio State, Wade never made a push for snaps with the Ravens, who traded him for a pair of late-round picks at the end of his rookie summer. Grade: D

Daelin Hayes (Round 5, pick 171)

The odds of finding a starting edge rusher in the fifth round are minuscule, but Hayes arrived with a nifty set of moves and flashed in summer workouts. He could never translate that performance to training camp, and injuries derailed his development. Grade: D

Ben Mason (Round 5, pick 184)

The Ravens steered into their image by drafting a fullback who played for Harbaugh’s brother at Michigan. Mason showed good hands in training camp and hung around the team’s practice squad but never threatened to displace Pat Ricard. Grade: C-

Overall: The Ravens’ top needs coming off a season that ended in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs were a dynamic wide receiver, a productive edge rusher and blockers who could keep Jackson upright against a playoff-quality defense. DeCosta went right at those holes with his first three picks, but the results have been uneven at best. His second third-round pick, Stephens, prompted the most chin-scratching on draft day but returned the best value last season. The Ravens got no game day production from Wade, Hayes or Mason. If neither Bateman nor Oweh breaks out, this could go down as DeCosta’s weakest draft. Grade: C


Kyle Hamilton (Round 1, pick 14)

Some questioned the Ravens using such a high pick on a safety when they already had two starters at the position and when Hamilton’s exact fit was unclear. What we’ve learned over two seasons is that Hamilton fits anywhere because he can do almost anything, from covering tight ends to dropping running backs to rushing off the edge. He might be the best safety in the league and the most important player on the Ravens’ defense. Grade: A+

Through a combination of shrewd moves to acquire more picks and a fierce devotion to taking the best player available, the Ravens once again came away with a stellar class, highlighted by first-round picks Kyle Hamilton and Tyler Linderbaum.
Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun
The Ravens nailed their first two picks in the 2022 draft with safety Kyle Hamilton, second from left, and center Tyler Linderbaum, second from right. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)

Tyler Linderbaum (Round 1, pick 25)

Some second guessers wondered why the Ravens would use the payoff for trading Marquise Brown on a center. But Linderbaum has been exactly as advertised, starting since the minute he showed up, making the Pro Bowl in his second season and giving the Ravens a building block for their offensive line. Grade: A

David Ojabo (Round 2, pick 45)

This was the Ravens’ big value play as they stashed an edge rusher who would have gone in the first round had he not torn his Achilles tendon during his pro day at Michigan. The hope was that Ojabo would bust out in his second season, but knee surgery shut him down again, and he’s back to the drawing board as he prepares for another shot in 2024. There’s still time for DeCosta’s risk to pay off. Grade: C-

Travis Jones (Round 3, pick 76)

The Ravens have always loved using mid-round picks to accumulate future starters for their defensive interior, and the 6-4, 338-pound Jones is on track after he took a step forward in 2023. He’s still projected to share time with Michael Pierce but has the talent to become a more frequent playmaker. Grade: B

Daniel Faalele (Round 4, pick 110)

The biggest player in the draft wasn’t ready when thrust into an emergency start at tackle as a rookie. The Ravens liked Faalele’s progress going into Year 2, and he helped them by rotating in for a hurting Morgan Moses late in the season. Will he have a real chance to start in 2024, or will the Ravens fill Moses’ shoes in this draft? Grade: B-

Jalyn Armour-Davis (Round 4, pick 119)

Armour-Davis had the speed to be another first-round cornerback out of Alabama but could not stay on the field consistently. That has been the story of his NFL career as well, and he might be running low on chances. Grade: C-

Charlie Kolar (Round 4, pick 128)

The Ravens saw Kolar as a possession target who could relieve Mark Andrews. Then, they hoped he might add strength and polish his blocking to fit an in-line role. He has yet to find his niche and could be on the roster bubble going into training camp. Grade: C-

Jordan Stout (Round 4, pick 130)

Stout’s big leg and all-around athleticism made him the Ravens’ choice to succeed franchise institution Sam Koch at punter. He’s locked in as the team’s starter but still searching for the consistency, especially on more tactically delicate punts, that set Koch apart. Grade: B

Baltimore Ravens' Isaiah Likely hauls in a touchdown pass over Houston Texans' Derek Stingley Jr. in the 4th quarter of the divisional playoff at M&T Bank Stadium. (Jerry Jackson/Staff photo)
Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely flashed star potential as a pass catcher from the moment he stepped on the practice field in the summer of 2022. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

Isaiah Likely (Round 4, pick 139)

Likely flashed star potential as a pass catcher from the moment he stepped on the practice field in the summer of 2022 and was a major reason why the Ravens thrived in Andrews’ absence last year. The trick now will be to get him and Andrews producing at the same time. Either way, Likely is integral to the Ravens’ plans for giving Jackson a dynamic set of targets. Grade: A-

Damarion Williams (Round 4, pick 141)

Williams has potential as an option to cover slot receivers, but injuries wiped out his opportunity to show it in 2023. Grade: C

Tyler Badie (Round 6, pick 196) 

Badie couldn’t find an opportunity with the Ravens, and the Denver Broncos signed the running back off their practice squad in December 2022. Grade: C-

Overall: DeCosta took an unusual approach, steering away from premium positions with his first two picks, but it’s hard to argue with any draft that yields a pair of Pro Bowl selections in the first round. The gamble on Ojabo has yet to pay off, and the six fourth-round picks are a mixed bag, as one might expect. Jones and especially Likely could provide outstanding value. Grade: A


Zay Flowers (Round 1, pick 22)

DeCosta used his first pick on a wide receiver for the third time in five years, and Flowers proved to be a good one, leading the Ravens in catches and receiving yards as a rookie. He also produced in the playoffs, though his goal line fumble was a key negative play in the Ravens’ AFC championship game loss. The Ravens are still figuring out how to use Flowers, who was frequently bottled up when Jackson targeted him with quick outside throws. But he’s the team’s No. 1 receiver going into 2024. Grade: A- 

Trenton Simpson (Round 3, pick 86)

The Ravens didn’t have a second-round pick because they traded it for Pro Bowl linebacker Roquan Smith. In the third round, they chose a potential future partner for Smith in the speedy Simpson. With Patrick Queen on the field for almost every defensive snap in 2023, Simpson didn’t play much, but he excelled in the regular-season finale and will be the top candidate to fill Queen’s shoes this year. Grade: B

Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Trenton Simpson (30) holds the football, celebrating his interception of a Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa pass with cornerback Ronald Darby (28) and outside linebacker Tavius Robinson (95) during the fourth quarter of an AFC matchup of NFL football in Baltimore. The Ravens became the AFC North champions, securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs with their 56-19 drubbing of Miami. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)
Ravens inside linebacker Trenton Simpson, with the ball, and outside linebacker Tavius Robinson, right, could make the 2023 draft look even better if they can step into bigger roles in 2024. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

Tavius Robinson (Round 4, pick 124)

Robinson was the steadiest contributor from the class other than Queen. The 6-foot-6, 258-pound outside linebacker didn’t flash much as a pass rusher but was sturdy enough as an edge-setter that the Ravens gave him defensive snaps in every regular-season game. Grade: B-

Kyu Blu Kelly (Round 5, pick 157)

Even when injuries struck their secondary during training camp, the Ravens never seemed to see Kelly as a viable option to step in at cornerback. They waived him at the end of training camp, and he bounced to three other teams by the end of the season. Grade: D

Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu (Round 6, pick 199)

The Ravens treated the 6-5, 325-pound Aumavae-Laulu as a potential starting guard going into training camp, but he quickly fell behind in that competition and was regularly inactive on game days once the season started. He’s rarely mentioned as a candidate to fill one of the three open starter jobs on the Ravens’ offensive line, a sign of how raw he proved to be. Grade: C+

Andrew Vorhees (Round 7, pick 229)

DeCosta pulled a nifty move, jumping back into the last round to add an experienced, powerful offensive lineman who would have been picked several rounds higher if he was healthy. Vorhees is back from that torn ACL and is expected to compete for snaps at guard this summer. Teams don’t find many starters in the last round, so the upside here is significant. Grade: B

Overall: This is the most difficult draft to grade because two of the key picks, Simpson and Vorhees, could jump into significant roles this year. If both of them join Flowers in the starting lineup, that would be a great payoff for six total picks, but we can’t say for sure. Grade: B-

NFL draft

Round 1: Thursday, 8 p.m.

Rounds 2-3: Friday, 7 p.m.

Rounds 4-7: Saturday, noon

TV: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network

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