The Baltimore Ravens looked poised for another postseason run after Week 12, sitting atop the AFC North standings at 8-3. But Baltimore closed the season with six-straight losses and missed the playoffs for the first time in four years. Injuries played a major part in their downfall, so this Baltimore Ravens team needs to build its depth for 2022.
Lamar Jackson’s potential contract extension looms large for the Ravens. Beyond that, clustered in the suddenly crowded crew of AFC contenders, Baltimore needs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Ronnie Stanley all to return healthy.
Baltimore Bullied the Ball on Offense
This Baltimore Ravens team needs to forget the 2021 season and move forward knowing they have a very specific window to win now while Lamar Jackson’s still on his rookie contract.
The Ravens lost their top three running backs prior to the start of the season, but they still managed to rank third in the league in rushing (145.8 yards per game). Baltimore shuffled through backs, but Jackson led the team in rushing with 767 yards.
The offense finished sixth in total yards per game (378.8) but ranked closer to the middle of the pack in passing (13th, 233 passing yards per game). Although he didn’t have a season like Ja’Marr Chase or Jaylen Waddle, rookie Rashod Bateman flashed as a potential No. 1 receiver playing alongside an elite tight end in Mark Andrews and wideout Hollywood Brown. Baltimore finished 16th in scoring (22.7 points per game).
Ravens Defense a Disappointment
The Baltimore Ravens have long been known for their dominant defensive units. That wasn’t at all the case in 2021. The Ravens fielded the league’s worst pass defense last season, allowing the most passing yards per game (278.9) and total (4,742). Baltimore’s secondary tied for the highest yard per attempt allowed (8.0) and ranked 29th in interception percentage (1.4).
The Ravens managed just nine interceptions (26th), and allowed the fifth-most passing touchdowns (31). It didn’t help that the injuries decimated Baltimore’s secondary, and that the Ravens pass rush underwhelmed.
Baltimore’s defense tied for 22nd in sacks (34), and ranked just 24th in pressure percentage (23.0). The Ravens ranked 14th in pass-rush win rate (41 percent) and 13th in QB Hits (96), but just 26th in sack percentage (5.2). Rookie Odafe Oweh reasonably filled the void left by Matthew Judon, playing more than 64 percent of all defensive snaps and leading the team in pressures. Oweh registered five sacks in 2021.
All told, Baltimore’s defense finished 24th in total yards per game allowed (363.4), but second against the run (84.5 rushing yards per game). The Ravens were also second in run-stop win rate (33 percent). They finished 19th in scoring defense (23.1 points per game).
Ravens Draft Capital and Cap Space
Following the first full week of free agency, the Ravens sported an estimated $11 million in cap space. General manager Eric DeCosta has work to do to fill holes on this roster ahead of a potential contract extension for Lamar Jackson. He’ll have 10 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft to play with.
Baltimore saw key free agents sign elsewhere early in free agency. The Ravens lost cornerback Anthony Averett and center Bradley Bozeman, and defensive end Calais Campbell remains unsigned. Several other contributors are free agents as well. Baltimore did address some team needs as the Ravens signed tackle Morgan Moses, defensive tackle Michael Pierce, and safety Marcus Williams in free agency.
The Baltimore Ravens sport nine picks in the first four rounds to fill team needs. According to ESPN Stats and Info, this marks just the seventh time a team has nine or more picks in the first four rounds in the common draft era (1967). The Ravens were awarded three compensatory picks, one in the third round and two in the fourth.
The Ravens draft capital checks in as the 10th-most valuable according to the draft pick value chart. Baltimore holds the No. 14 overall selection in the first round, and the No. 45 pick in the second. They have two third-round picks (76 and 100), five in the fourth-round (110, 119, 128, 139, 141), and one in the sixth (196).
Baltimore Ravens Team Needs in 2022
The Baltimore Ravens team needs to add depth and stay healthy to compete in a packed AFC in 2022. No team has more picks in the first four rounds of the draft than the Ravens, so the team can address some of these needs.
1. Offensive Line
This Baltimore Ravens team needs to address the offensive line, both at the draft and in free agency. Lamar Jackson absorbed 38 sacks last season in just 12 games played, and the Ravens struggled against elite pass-rushers. It doesn’t help that the Ravens lost starting center Bradley Bozeman in free agency.
Tackle Ronnie Stanley remains a question mark with his injury history. Stanley’s missed 26 games over the last two seasons. The team addressed the retirement of Alejandro Villanueva by signing Moses, but there’s still work that needs to be done. Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum could be an option to upgrade the interior offensive line if the Ravens draft trust goes in that direction.
2. Outside Linebacker
Following the reversal of free agent edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, the Ravens draft needs to address the void at edge rusher. While rookie Odafe Oweh flashed potential, Baltimore could use more depth and athleticism at the outside linebacker position. It doesn’t help that Tyus Bowser suffered a torn Achilles in the season finale.
Michigan’s David Ojabo suffered a torn Achilles himself at Michigan’s Pro Day. The injury will undoubtedly affect Ojabo’s draft stock, but it could also ensure his being available for the Ravens to draft at No. 14 overall.
It’s no secret Baltimore sported the league’s worst pass defense. The Ravens secondary allowed the most passing yards, highest yards per attempt average, and sixth-highest quarterback rating. Baltimore’s defense allowed the fifth-most passing touchdowns but were missing some of their top players by the season’s end.
The return of Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey will help, but this unit obviously needs depth. And even when he was playing last season, Humphrey underwhelmed, allowing the fourth-most yards per completion (14.8) and six touchdowns (ninth-most).
There’s a chance LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr.’s there at No. 14 overall. If not, the Ravens draft would do well to select one of the other five cornerbacks rated among the top-32 prospects on the 2022 Big Board.
Among the other Baltimore Ravens team needs are tight end, inside linebacker, and wide receiver.
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