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Ravens Insider: Grading the Ravens and highlighting the biggest winners and losers from the NFL draft


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How did the Ravens fare in this year’s NFL draft? After three days, it felt like one of those movies that you’ve seen countless times but always end up watching when you come across it on TV, like Shawshank Redemption, Goodwill Hunting or Gladiator.

Put another way, their performance was good, familiar and filled a void.

Or in Baltimore’s case, multiple needs after a free agent exodus of a dozen players this offseason along with other moves that left gaps all over the roster, particularly on the offensive line, where there will be at least three new starters in 2024.

As for how well the Ravens addressed those holes, the early takeaway is predictably solid. From a letter grade standpoint, most draftniks put them in the range of A-minus down to B, which is nearly always the area they seem to fall into. That also perhaps explains why they are far more often picking closer to the end of each round than near the top of it.

Over the past 21 years, Baltimore remarkably has had just one pick in the top 10 (left tackle Ronnie Stanley, No. 6, in 2016).

The New York Jets, meanwhile, have had 10 top-10 picks in that span, including No. 2 overall selection Zach Wilson in 2021. Three disastrous seasons later, the quarterback was traded to the Denver Broncos.

Here’s a look at how the Ravens fared as well as the biggest winners and losers from this year’s NFL draft.

Grading the Ravens

Again, this class feels like a grade of a B.

With nine offensive linemen off the board by the time the Ravens were on the clock, they filled another need with a long, fast, rangy cornerback in Clemson’s Nate Wiggins, who could end up being a very good successor to Marlon Humphrey on the outside.

There are questions about how good Washington tackle Roger Rosengarten, Baltimore’s second-round pick, can be, but he has positional versatility at tackle or guard in the Ravens’ eyes and his mobility could be a big asset.

Baltimore Ravens introduce first-round draft pick Nate Wiggins, center, with assistant head coach/pass game coordinator Chris Hewitt, and defensive coordinator Zachary Orr, right, in Owings Mills, Md. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)
First-round draft pick Nate Wiggins, center, with assistant head coach/pass game coordinator Chris Hewitt, left, and defensive coordinator Zach Orr, will be an immediate contributor for the Ravens. (Kevin Richardson/Staff)

Penn State outside linebacker Adisa Isaac checked off another need and was more productive in college than his teammate Odafe Oweh.

North Carolina wide receiver Devontez Walker gives Lamar Jackson another speedy deep threat and should add value on special teams.

Doubling up with cornerback T.J. Tampa in Round 4 was also an interesting move given that many projected him much higher, while shifty Marshall running back Rasheed Ali gives the Ravens another option along with Derrick Henry and Justice Hill. And seventh-round center Nick Samac, who will likely see action at guard, would have likewise gone earlier if not for a late-season injury.

In other words, the Ravens do what they usually do and fill needs with young talent that should end up being good value relative to where each player was picked.

Biggest winners

Chicago Bears: Speaking of teams picking in the top 10, the Bears had two of the first nine picks this year and they did well with each, taking 2022 Heisman winner and Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams first overall and Washington star wide receiver Rome Odunze ninth. Then they added Yale offensive tackle Kiran Amegadjie, who was at or near the top of the second tier of offensive linemen, in Round 3. With Odunze, Keenan Allen and former Terp D.J. Moore, along with a solid offensive lineman who can help keep Williams from having to run for his life, the Bears might have finally found the franchise quarterback they’ve been searching for since Jim McMahon. Quietly, general manager Ryan Poles is rebuilding the Bears into the great franchise they once were.

Philadelphia Eagles: While Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta, coach John Harbaugh and owner Steve Bisciotti were generally subdued inside the team’s Owings Mills facility following each pick, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was high-fiving everyone in Philadelphia’s draft room so much his hand must have been sore by the end of the weekend. There was reason to celebrate, though, with the Eagles nabbing perhaps the draft’s best defensive back (Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell) in the first round and then adding what could be their version of Kyle Hamilton with Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean in Round 2. Pass rusher Jalyx Hunt, taken in the third round, is an intriguing small school project from Houston Christian with big-time athleticism, while fourth-round pick and speedy Clemson running back Will Shipley is a nice yin to the yang of bruising Saquon Barkley. And the Eagles’ Day 3 picks of Michigan guard Trevor Keegan, huge Florida State wide receiver Johnny Wilson and Clemson linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr., the son of a former Philadelphia great, have a high ceiling.

Kansas City Chiefs: Like the Ravens, the Chiefs almost never draft high, with one pick in the top 10 in the past 11 years and three Super Bowl titles to go along with it. Their late first-round pick of Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy, who ran the fastest 40-yard dash time in NFL scouting combine history, along with BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia in Round 2 and Washington State safety Jaden Hicks on Day 3, were all good values.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Harbaugh is fond of saying the offensive line is the most important element of any good football team, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Omar Khan feel similarly. After using last year’s 14th overall pick on left tackle Broderick Jones, Pittsburgh took Washington tackle Troy Fautanu and West Virginia center Zach Frazier in the first two rounds this year. Those three, along with guards Isaac Seumalo and James Daniels, should give the Steelers one of the best lines in the league, which they’ll need in front of quarterback Russell Wilson (or Justin Fields). Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson and N.C. State linebacker Payton Wilson, who won the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker, should also contribute immediately.

Washington Commanders: General manager Adam Peters did the smart thing by staying at No. 2 and taking Lamar Jackson 2.0, quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Jayden Daniels out of LSU. Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton was also a solid choice at No. 36 — he could be their version of Justin Madubuike. Michigan cornerback Mike Sainristil is a former wide receiver who is athletic, fast and had six interceptions last season, including two for scores, and should be a great fit in the slot. Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott gives Daniels a reliable outlet who can also block. TCU offensive lineman Brandon Coleman is versatile, has a big wingspan and should play right away. Temple linebacker and Delaware native Jordan Magee was an intriguing, athletic Day 3 pick who could stick as a solid contributor.

Biggest losers

Atlanta Falcons: Drafting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. at all, never mind eighth overall, when Atlanta signed Kirk Cousins this offseason was easily the biggest head-scratcher of the draft and the conversation between general manager Terry Fontenot and owner Arthur Blank quickly became a meme that will go down in draft night lore. Then they reached on selecting Clemson defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro 35th overall when Newton, who was more productive, was still available.

Denver Broncos: Coach Sean Payton’s effusive praise for quarterback Bo Nix made it sound like he was trying to convince himself that he made the right call using the 12th overall pick on a quarterback many projected to go at the end of the first round or the second. Yes, he led the country in completion percentage (77.4) and yards (4,508) for Oregon last season and has improved significantly from earlier in his five-year college career. But the Broncos have multiple needs and there are still questions on how Nix will handle NFL blitzes and decision-making when he has to extend plays.

Cleveland Browns: The good news is the Deshaun Watson debt is paid. The bad news is the cost of it included having just two picks in the first four rounds this year. While the Steelers, Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals all got better, Cleveland drafted Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Hall Jr. and Michigan guard Zak Zinter, neither of whom are expected to be major contributors in 2024.

Tennessee Titans: When the Los Angeles Chargers snagged Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt ahead of the Titans, the best thing they could have done was move back to acquire more picks to fill their multiple needs. Instead, the Titans reached with Alabama offensive tackle J.C. Latham, who could also be tasked with moving to left tackle after playing entirely on the right side in college. Their second-round pick, Texas defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat, might also have been available later after a DUI arrest earlier this month. At 6-4, 366 pounds. he has an NFL body, but he also comes with question marks.

Malik Cunningham: Once touted by John Harbaugh as an intriguing option at quarterback and wide receiver for the Ravens, Cunningham’s stay in Baltimore might be short after all with the Ravens using a Day 3 pick on Kentucky quarterback Devin Leary. When Harbaugh was asked about Leary, he dubbed him as the probable No. 3 quarterback for Baltimore, with Josh Johnson already slated for the backup role behind Jackson.

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