There will be plenty of options for the Ravens at Pick 14, but Drake London might just be too good to pass up.
The Baltimore Ravens enter the 2022 NFL Draft with a chance to put the finishing touches on an offseason that has seen them welcome the likes of Marcus Williams and Morgan Moses, while also retaining veteran leaders like Calais Campbell and Josh Bynes.
They need a corner, help in the front seven, another starting-caliber offensive lineman, and could also use a tight end and another running back. But if Drake London is on the board when they’re on the clock with the 14th overall pick, Baltimore should turn the card in fast.
It’s not that the Ravens don’t have receivers. Marquise Brown surpassed the 1000-yard mark for the first time in 2021, despite seeing a noticeable drop-off down the stretch with Tyler Huntley at quarterback. Rashod Bateman seems poised for a major breakout in his sophomore season. Tight end Mark Andrews even set the Ravens’ single-season record for receiving yards.
But while Baltimore isn’t lacking pass-catching options, they are lacking size in the receiver room. With Sammy Watkins now in Green Bay and Miles Boykin a possible trade/cut candidate, Bateman (6″0′, 190 lbs.) projects to be the only wide receiver standing above 6″0 on the 2022 depth chart. In football’s most physical division, and an organization looking to “build a bully,” that’s not going to work.
What exactly is the Ravens offense missing without a big-bodied wideout to catch passes from Lamar Jackson? They learned first-hand what they’re missing during their Week 16 matchup with the Bengals last year:
The Ravens have a pair of receivers in Bateman and Tylan Wallace that play bigger than their stated size, but lack a big, physical presence that can outmuscle and outsize defensive backs to make a big play. That’s where London comes in.
London has drawn comps to Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans, and sometimes actually looks more like a slender Rob Gronkowski on the field. He lacks the speed to create separation, but uses his brute strength to create major YAC and is a contested catch machine. The phrase “Play Like a Raven” is most-often assigned to tenacious defensive players, but the way London fights for every catch and every yard certainly captures the ethos of the “Ravens Way.”
Lamar Jackson’s accuracy was at its best in his 2019 MVP season, when a significant number of his throws went to bigger tight ends, 6″2′ Seth Roberts, and 6″4′ Miles Boykin. If Baltimore wants to get their star quarterback to return to form, giving him London and another tight end in this draft would go a long way.
So London’s a fit. The only question is whether the Ravens can afford to use a premium pick on him and still address more pressing needs.
Can they? Let’s run a mock and see how it looks:
If there were ever a year to use a premium pick on a position of low-medium need, it’s in a draft class known for its depth rather than its premium talent. With three Day 2 picks and five picks in the fourth round, Baltimore is perfectly positioned to address needs while also adding another difference-maker at the receiver position.
It’s also worth noting that of the major contenders over the last two seasons, two of four Super Bowl teams featured elite receiver trios:
- 2021-22 AFC Champion Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd
- 2020-21 Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown
The other two teams:
- 2021-22 Super Bowl Champion Rams: Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Robert Woods (injured)
- 2020-21 AFC Champion Chiefs: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson
Both teams featured a Top 5 receiver in the league, which as of today, the Ravens do not have. Unless they want to acquire one via trade, the path to loading up comes through the draft.
Baltimore never gets caught up in the hype and energy of offseason arms races, and this year has been no different so far. But London presents an opportunity to “keep up responsibly.” If London’s on the board when the Ravens are on the clock, they shouldn’t hesitate to add the final major piece to what should already be a fun offense in 2022.
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