Ravens Trade Scenario Swaps 3 Picks for All-American Edge

Kayvon Thibodeaux

Getty A first-round trade can land the Ravens one of this draft's top edge defenders.

Pass rush became a problem for the Baltimore Ravens almost from the moment Matthew Judon joined the New England Patriots in free agency last offseason. Without Judon, the Ravens lacked a true tone-setter on the edges of their front seven, and it showed.

The Ravens logged just 34 sacks during the 2021 season, one reason they ended the campaign having allowed the most yards through the air in the NFL. General manager Eric DeCosta has yet to add reinforcements to the pass-rush department, but that could change if the Ravens are in the mood to trade during the first round of the 2022 draft.

One NFL writer has mapped out a scenario where the Ravens would send three picks to the New York Giants. The deal would allow the Ravens to jump from 14 into the top 10, where DeCosta could select a talented but controversial edge defender.

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Ravens Flip Picks for All-American

The Giants own the fifth and seventh-overall picks, both spots where teams could expect to take one of the marquee pass-rushers from this class. If the Ravens are going to move up, it should be for Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, according to Bleacher Report’s Michelle Bruton.

In Bruton’s trade scenario, the Ravens would send “something like Nos. 14, 45 and 196” to the Giants. First, second and sixth-round picks might tempt Big Blue into parting ways with the seventh choice, a spot Bruton noted later in her article the Giants “seem to be renting.”

Thibodeaux would be a game-changer for a Ravens defense now under the stewardship of Mike MacDonald. He replaced Don ‘Wink’ Martindale as coordinator after a successful spell at Michigan, where MacDonald constructed his front around highly touted edge-rushers Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo.

Having Thibodeaux at his disposal would allow MacDonald to call a similar scheme. Thibodeaux logged 19 sacks and forced three fumbles during three seasons for the Ducks.

He was named a unanimous All-American after the 2021 season, and PFF Draft has graded Thibodeaux without equal the last two years:

His natural athleticism and flair for the big play elevated his stock early in the pre-draft process. Things have changed since, though, with mounting concerns about his temperament souring some on Thibodeaux.

Those concerns have been spelled out by The Draft Network’s Jack McKessy: “Some teams are wary of the lack of consistency in the effort he puts into each play as well as his attitude on and off the field.”

McKessy also revealed how the Giants tried to test Thibodeaux during their meeting with the prospect: “Thibodeaux himself admitted that in his meeting with the Giants, they gave him ‘a hard time’ about his character and attitude. According to Thibodeaux, they specifically asked about how he’d react to not being the star of the team when he arrived, or what would happen if he didn’t have a sack through five games.”

Whatever answers the Giants received, they still seem undecided. The NFC East franchise is among those continuing to conduct their due diligence on Thibodeaux, according to Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson.

While Thibodeaux remains on their radar, Wilson also called the Giants “extremely interested” in rush end Jermaine Johnson II and offensive tackle Charles Cross. That interest could leave the door ajar for DeCosta to strike a deal for Thibodeaux, who has expressed his admiration for the Ravens in the past.

Thibodeaux a Ravens Fan

Hearing his name called by the Ravens might be music to Thibodeaux’s ears based on his childhood affinity with the team. The 21-year-old explained his allegiance and also revealed his admiration for Ravens icon Ray Lewis when speaking to CBS Sports HQ ahead of Super Bowl LVI:

If Thibodeaux would be happy with the Ravens, they’d be equally enamored with him, based on the player’s assessment of his own talents. He told NFL Total Access any team that drafts him will get “the best player off the board.”

There’s nothing wrong with Thibodeaux’s confidence, and the Ravens could use some of that swagger after things went stale defensively in 2021. Attitude can key a quick turnaround, but there’s no substitute for talent, so DeCosta can’t ignore the pass rush in this draft.

His attempts to restock the options in free agency fell flat when former Raven Za’Darius Smith had a change of heart about returning. Instead, Smith joined the Minnesota Vikings, leaving the Ravens to look for a new plan.

It won’t involve Justin Houston, who hasn’t been brought back after starting 15 games last season. Houston only logged 4.5 sacks, 2.5 behind the team-leading tally of Tyus Bowser, who had surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon in January.

A standout presence offenses will have to plan for is needed on the edge. It’s something worth trading up to get for a team that has to face Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow twice a season.

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