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What Mink Thinks: Eric DeCosta Is Stealing the 2022 NFL Draft


Somebody get Eric DeCosta a briefcase. He's stealing the 2022 NFL Draft.

On Thursday night, DeCosta said it felt like the old days when the Ravens would sit back and watch stars such as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs fall right into their lap. One day later, Baltimore (surprisingly) didn't make any trades to move around on Day 2. DeCosta sat and picked.

And, once again, the Ravens got absolute steals. All four of Baltimore's picks so far could have been first-rounders. All four of them.

Safety Kyle Hamilton was a potential top-five pick. Center Tyler Linderbaum was at one point considered a top-15 pick. They were already considered a first-round coup. On Day 2, the value got arguably even better.

A couple days before the start of the draft, NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero identified seven potential surprise first-round picks. The Ravens' Day 2 picks, Michigan outside linebacker David Ojabo (second round, No. 45) and Connecticut defensive tackle Travis Jones (third round, No. 76) both made the list.

If he hadn't torn his Achilles at his Pro Day, Ojabo could have been a top-15 pick. Nearly all the top draft analysts had Jones ranked inside their top 50.

The job of an NFL general manager is to maximize value, both in free agency and the draft, to build the best roster possible given the constraints. DeCosta and his team have nailed it so far.

Not only are the Ravens taking high-potential players; they've also picked prospects who fit their culture and DNA. This aren't a bunch of super talented players with red flags that could blow up in the Ravens' face.

There couldn't be a better marriage in the second round than Ojabo and the Ravens. He reunites with the college coach, Mike Macdonald, that unlocked his enormous potential and will get to play with a good high school friend with a similar backstory, Odafe Oweh. A latecomer to football, Ojabo now joins a familiar system and coaching style that should allow him to flourish once he takes the field.

Ojabo's injury is the big question mark here. With Tyus Bowser recuperating from a torn Achilles, the Ravens could've used another pass rusher to get after AFC North quarterbacks from the jump this season. It's too soon to say how much of Ojabo's rookie season will be robbed by his pro day injury.

But the potential Ojabo brings was too good a value for DeCosta to pass on. DeCosta took an ultra-athletic pass rusher at No. 31 last year in Oweh. If Ojabo hadn't torn his Achilles at his pro day, DeCosta could have taken him even earlier than Oweh.

With Jones, Baltimore gets a mega-sized interior force to add to the mix of Calais Campbell, Michael Pierce and Justin Madubuike. The Ravens were widely linked to Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis only to see the Eagles leapfrog them for the monster. Jones isn't as hulking as Davis, but he's big (6-foot-4, 325 pounds).

The only complaint that could be made through the Ravens' first two days of the 2022 draft is that they didn't address some of their biggest needs because they were too busy scooping up value.

Baltimore hasn't drafted a cornerback yet. Ojabo will help the pass rush, but when? Center was certainly a position the Ravens could upgrade, but Patrick Mekari could have started. Last year's leading receiver, Marquise Brown, was subtracted and there's been no addition so far.

Ozzie Newsome, the man who picked some of those falling stars back in the day, worried about taking the best player available first and then filling needs second.

There are many ways to bolster a unit and plug holes. But the draft is about setting a team up for prolonged success, and the Ravens have grabbed four players already that could be long-term difference makers in Baltimore.

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