Why It Could Be a Defensive-Heavy Draft for the Ravens

Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Indianapolis.

Known for their defensive tradition, the Baltimore Ravens are out to restore order in the 2022 offseason.

The Ravens already made a big investment in safety Marcus Williams, and as they turn their focus to the NFL draft later this month, it's clear there's much more work to do on the defense.

"It could be an all-defensive draft for all I know," Owner Steve Bisciotti said at last week's league meetings, "and I'd be more than happy with that."

Here are five reasons why this could be a defensive-heavy draft for the Ravens:

Free-agency "losses"

While the Ravens reeled in a premier free safety in Williams, they tried to also ink pass rusher Za'Darius Smith and reportedly inside linebacker Bobby Wagner. Smith backed out of a contract agreement and landed in Minnesota and Wagner opted to go back to his L.A. roots with the defending champion Rams. Still, the Ravens' interest shows they were willing to spend big money to upgrade at those two spots.

Depth needed at CB

The Ravens' cornerback unit has taken the biggest hits in free agency, leaving the unit thin behind one of the league's best duos in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Tavon Young was released in a salary-cap savings move, Anthony Averett signed with the Raiders, Jimmy Smith could retire and Chris Westry went to Carolina. The Ravens don't necessarily need a starter, but any good secondary in today's NFL needs at least three starting caliber cornerbacks and Baltimore's injury history at the position has shown you can never have too many.

Pass-rusher remains a question

Only eight teams had fewer sacks than the Ravens' 34 last season. Tyus Bowser, who led the team with seven sacks, is rehabbing a torn Achilles suffered in the regular-season finale. Veteran Justin Houston is a free agent. First-round pick Odafe Oweh will be leaned on to make a Year 2 leap, but the Ravens need more assistance. Edge rusher is a position where the Ravens could make a first-round pick and possibly double up considering there's a lot of depth.

First-round talent is defensive rich

Part of the fun of the pre-draft process is pouring over the top analysts' mock drafts, trying to get a general feel for who the first-round picks will be and in what range. The consensus is that it's not a particularly strong quarterback class and that defensive players will dominate the top 15 picks. There could be three or four offensive tackles taken, but the quarterbacks and wide receivers will be sparse. When Baltimore is on the clock, its top choices will probably be skewed more toward defensive players just based on how the board is stacked.

Offensive needs are for depth

Improving the offensive line is a high priority this season, but the Ravens' signing of dependable veteran right tackle Morgan Moses already went a long way in helping. Baltimore didn't retain center Bradley Bozeman, but Patrick Mekari is now free to slide back to center, where he has extensive starting experience. The Ravens don't need to draft a Day 1 starter at any offensive spot, rather focusing on depth (or future starter) additions at center, offensive tackle, tight end and running back. Some of those will probably be addressed in the draft, but others could be filled by a post-draft veteran signing.

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