Ravens Land Highly Touted Offensive Tackle in Todd McShay's 2022 Mock Draft
Are you going through mock draft withdrawal after being inundated with them the past few months?
Well, fear not. It's never too early to look ahead, and ESPN's Todd McShay has released his first mock draft for 2022.
After the Ravens traded Orlando Brown Jr. six days before the start of the draft, offensive tackle became a popular position in this year's final mock drafts. Ultimately, the Ravens decided not to draft an offensive tackle and signed veteran free agent Alejandro Villanueva instead.
McShay predicted the Ravens will draft Brown's long-term replacement at right tackle next year, as he mocked Penn State offensive tackle Rasheed Walker to Baltimore at No. 26 overall. (The draft order was determined by combining 2022 power rankings from several NFL analysts.)
"The 6-foot-6, 312-pound Walker has 22 starts at left tackle in college, and the Maryland native could step into a starting role on the right side opposite Ronnie Stanley," McShay wrote.
Walker opted to return to Penn State last season rather than enter the 2021 draft. Before he made that decision, Pro Football Network ranked Walker as the No. 4 prospect among offensive tackles.
"He has nearly every trait NFL teams want in a starting left tackle," Centre Daily Times' Jon Sauber wrote. "He has long arms and a powerful base with improving technique that continues to be refined under Offensive Line Coach Phil Trautwein. Walker — unlike many college left tackles — should be able to stay at the position in the next level because of his length and athleticism."
As noted in Late for Work earlier this week, two other 2022 mock drafts had the Ravens taking an offensive lineman in Round 1. The Athletic's Dane Brugler mocked Georgia's Jamaree Salyer — who has played both tackle positions and left guard in college — to the Ravens, and Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski has the Ravens drafting Kentucky offensive tackle Darian Kinnard.
Why Tylan Wallace Is Biggest Sleeper Pick in AFC North
The Ravens made a splash by landing Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman in the first round, but they got another wide receiver with a high ceiling in the fourth round in Oklahoma State's Tylan Wallace.
Wallace is the biggest sleeper among draft picks in the AFC North, according to NFL.com's Dan Parr.
"NFL teams underestimated Wallace, perhaps because of his size or the knee injury he suffered in 2019, which helps explain why he was still available late in Round 4," Parr wrote. "It's not hard to envision him becoming a star in Baltimore, though. His game is built on determination and toughness — sounds like a perfect fit for the Ravens — and he can be the physical, go-up-and-get-it guy Lamar Jackson has lacked at wide receiver."
One NFL assistant coach compared Wallace to former Ravens wide receiver and potential future Hall of Famer Steve Smith Sr.
"He's the same kind of competitor and (has the) same kind of jump ball skills," the assistant coach told NFL.com's Greg Zierlein.
Parr wrote: "With endorsements like that, the 18th WR selected this year could turn out to be pretty special."
On a side note, in Parr's AFC North draft grades, he gave the Ravens a "B," the same mark he gave the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. The Cleveland Browns received the highest grade in the division ("A-minus").
"This feels like a high-ceiling, low-floor group overall," Parr wrote in regard to the Ravens' class.
Which Ravens Players Benefited From the Draft?
Now that the draft is in the books, several Ravens players have a better idea of where they stand in regards to their place on the roster.
Ravens Wire's Kevin Oestreicher identified three Ravens who were winners in the draft. Here are some excerpts:
OL Tyre Phillips
Oestreicher's analysis: "Instead of taking a right tackle, Baltimore opted to take just one offensive lineman in guard Ben Cleveland. Even though the Ravens did sign Alejandro Villanueva to be the starter in 2021, he's not a long-term solution at the position. That means that another offensive lineman in Tyre Phillips can continue to develop in hopes of potentially being solid enough to take over the right tackle spot full-time when Villanueva departs."
DL Justin Madubuike
Oestreicher's analysis: "The fact that Baltimore decided to stick to what they already had on their roster is good news for defensive lineman Justin Madubuike. The second-year player out of Texas A&M showed flashes in his rookie year, and without another player to challenge him in the rotation behind the veterans, he should be in store for another good year."
S DeShon Elliott
Oestreicher's analysis: "Baltimore didn't end up drafting a player who could move Elliott out of the starting free safety spot. While the reported signing of undrafted free agent safety Ar'Darius Washington could pay dividends, it seems like Elliott will once again be lining up at free safety next to Chuck Clark in the back end of the secondary."
Ravens-Chiefs Game Ranked As One of Top Matchups of 2021 Season
With the full NFL schedule set to be released on Wednesday, NFL.com's Nick Shook ranked the top 10 matchups of the season. The Ravens-Kansas City Chiefs game at M&T Bank Stadium was No. 5 on the list.
Jackson has only lost seven games in his three years as a starter, but three of those losses were to the Chiefs, prompting him to refer to Kansas City as "our kryptonite."
"This matchup has consistently produced thrilling contests, and the two meet once again in the latest iteration of Lamar Jackson vs. Patrick Mahomes," Shook wrote. "The Ravens are again gearing up for a deep playoff run, but in order to finally reach their goals, they'll first have to overcome the back-to-back conference champion.
"Kansas City has something to prove, too: Can its defense do enough to shut down Baltimore's dominant rushing attack? Can the Chiefs bottle up Jackson? And most important: Are they still the kings of the AFC? We'll learn plenty when these two meet."
The game takes on additional meaning because of the trade that sent Brown to Kansas City. Brown will be protecting Mahomes' blind side. With the 31st-overall pick the Ravens received from the Chiefs, they selected Penn State edge rusher Odafe Oweh, who will likely be going against Brown.
Interestingly, none of the Ravens' meetings with AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Cleveland made the list.