The Ravens are going to get a slew of A's on their 2022 report card, but at the end of Saturday, General Manager Eric DeCosta said he was glad it was over.
There was a lot riding on this draft. The Ravens had numerous holes to fill, a quarterback set to keep eating larger slices of the salary cap pie, and a loaded division they finished at the bottom of last season.
DeCosta didn't scratch every itch with his 2022 NFL Draft, but he did something far more important. He restocked the team's talent with a collection of high-value picks.
The Ravens entered the draft with top needs at cornerback, edge rusher, and offensive line. They created another hole when they traded top wide receiver Marquise Brown. Baltimore didn't draft a cornerback until the fourth round. Their edge rusher is coming off Achilles surgery and won't be ready to play at the start of the season. They didn't pick a wide receiver.
But pick after pick, DeCosta nailed the Ravens' picks to build a better long-term future in Baltimore. The Ravens needed to replenish a roster of cheaper talent around Lamar Jackson that can once again overtake their foes. And now it looks far more capable of doing so.
Baltimore has always been a team that abides by the best-player-available strategy. This year, it seemed DeCosta followed it even more strictly. After seemingly every Ravens pick, analysts would talk about how they had that player ranked so much higher and Baltimore got another steal.
Even though the Ravens had their two starting safeties, they got tremendous value with Kyle Hamilton at No. 14 -- a top-five talent on many boards. Then the Ravens grabbed a starting center with Tyler Linderbaum, turning a trade request from wide receiver Marquise Brown into better protection for Jackson.
On Day 2, Baltimore tucked an ace up its sleeve with outside linebacker David Ojabo, who would have been a first-round pick had he not torn his Achilles. In the third round, the Ravens added a big, athletic body in the trenches with Travis Jones, a player that could've snuck into the late first round.
In the fourth round, DeCosta was determined to beat the odds and find at least several starters with his whopping six picks. What he did was select newer models of some of the Ravens' greatest recent mid-round hits.
Hulking offensive tackle Daniel Faalele could become the next Orlando Brown Jr. Fleet-footed Alabama cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis could become the next Anthony Averett. Big-bodied receiving tight ends Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely may be the next Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. Punter Jordan Stout might be the next Sam Koch. Scrappy cornerback Damarion Williams could be the next Tavon Young.
Considering the holes on the roster and need for depth, all of them will have a chance to compete for roles on more than special teams. Add fifth-round running back Tyler Badie into that conversation as well.
The Ravens still have some needs remaining, but DeCosta knows full well there are other ways to fill in the gaps. That's what free agency is for. The draft is for stockpiling talent, and that's what Baltimore did lots of in 2022.