Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic listed Utah Utes linebacker Devin Lloyd as a “prospect to watch” for the Ravens, who hold the 14th overall pick in this year’s draft.
“Everything about Lloyd’s tape screams Baltimore Ravens linebacker,” wrote Baumgardner on February 22, “He knows what he’s doing, at all times.”
With the history of top-tier linebacker play in Baltimore – from legends like Ray Lewis to recent Pro Bowlers like now-New York Jet C.J. Mosley – that’s high praise for Lloyd, but Baumgardner thinks it’s well earned:
He can create havoc in the backfield, he can shift and bother backs and tight ends in the middle of the field in coverage, and he is just an all-around damn good player. His testing scores might not be overwhelming, but his film is tough to ignore.
At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, Lloyd has the size to match up with tight ends in coverage, but his performance at the NFL Combine in March will give the Ravens a better idea of his overall athleticism.
But after a sterling 2021 season – which included recognition as the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year and the Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year, per the Utes’ website – Lloyd certainly has the pedigree to be worth a first-round pick.
“Feels like a Raven,” concluded Baumgardner, who also named Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning as an offensive fit for the Ravens. Penning has been frequently linked with the Ravens given the uncertainty at the position in Baltimore.
“Penning would check a bigger-need box for Baltimore,” wrote Baumgardner, “He’s as big as a house at 6-7, 321 pounds, and he has a legit mean streak.”
Is Lloyd a Fit in Baltimore?
On paper, Penning appears to be a more likely pick for the Ravens. He’s a top prospect at a premium position that happens to be a dire need in Baltimore, but don’t be surprised if the Ravens take a best-player-available approach and select Lloyd.
He’s a high-floor defender who could quickly develop into a three-down linebacker in Baltimore, with 80-plus grades in pass rush, coverage and run defense during the 2021 season, per Pro Football Focus, with at least 150 snaps in each role. Lloyd has made steady progress in his career, improving from a 69.5 overall grade in his freshman year to an 82.2 grade in 2020 before earning a NCAA-best 90.2 grade in 2021.
Throughout his college career, Lloyd was a solid run defender who demonstrated a penchant for making plays behind the line of scrimmage as a blitzer, two prerequisites for playing linebacker in Baltimore.
But Lloyd’s ceiling will be determined by his ability to make an impact against the pass, both in coverage and as an edge rusher.
He demonstrated some of those skills in college, though it wasn’t his primary role at Utah.
However, the Ravens’ recent loss of outside linebacker Tyus Bowser to a torn Achilles could make Lloyd’s edge-rushing versatility even more valuable in Baltimore.
Lloyd even earned comparisons to 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons due to his versatility as an off-ball linebacker. While the Ravens shouldn’t draft Lloyd and expect him to become Parsons, they would be wise to consider the different roles that Lloyd could play on their defense.
Lloyd could be a true triple-threat defender, with the ability to rush the passer, drop into coverage and stop the run.
Lloyd Unlikely to Fall To 2nd Round
If the Ravens see Lloyd as a perfect fit in the same way that Baumgardner does, they’ll likely have to spend a first-round pick to secure the versatile linebacker.
Ravens fans may not be happy with the pick – the fanbase has been clamoring for additions to both the offensive and defensive lines – but Baltimore has a long history of taking the best player available with their draft picks.
Lloyd is almost universally considered to be a first-round prospect by draft experts and analysts, so he’s unlikely to be available when the Ravens are on the clock in the second round with the 45th overall pick. Trading back from 14 to the 20s could allow the Ravens to draft Lloyd but still maximize the value of their picks, and Baltimore also has enough draft capital to trade up from 45.