1st Rounders Earn High Grades In Ravens Midseason Progress Reports

Ravens IOL Tyler Linderbaum

Getty Ravens IOL Tyler Linderbaum in pregame warmups in a preseason game on August 27, 2022.

The Baltimore Ravens‘ bye week came at the perfect time to reflect on the impact and performances of the team’s 2022 draft class. They had one of the biggest classes in the league and have leaned on a fair amount of them to play large or at least vital roles as starters or key depth pieces.

Here are some progress reports on how the team’s first-year players are coming along:

Kyle Hamilton

The first-round safety out of Notre Dame went from being labeled a bust by Ravens fans after just two games into the regular season to being a lethal weapon and key cog in the team’s defense since then. Even though he has yet to make his first career start, Hamilton has seen his role expand and his playing time increase over the last two months.

First-year defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald has utilized and deployed him in a plethora of ways and he has made several splash plays since Week 3. He has recorded 25 total tackles including one for a loss, two quarterback hits, two pass deflections, one sack, and one forced fumble.

Hamilton headed into the bye coming off arguably his best two games of the season thus far. He was lights out in one-on-one coverage against tight ends in the team’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8. In their victory over the New Orleans Saints, he was all over the field in the right places on his way to finishing as Pro Football Focus’ second-highest graded rookie defender in Week 9.

Grade: A-

Tyler Linderbaum

The first-round center out of Iowa has started every game for the team in their first nine games and played 100 %of their total offensive snaps in all but one with the lone expectation coming in Week 5 where he missed just snaps and still played 97 % of the snaps per Pro Football Reference.

Linderbaum has been a key cog in their rushing success with his ability to more than hold his own in the trenches and climb to the second level and make highlight blocks 10 to 15 yards down the field. According to ESPN, his run block win rate of 76 % ranks first among rookie centers and third among all players at the position.

Grade: A+

David Ojabo

The second-round outside linebacker out of Michigan has yet to see the field yet this season but that was to be expected since the only reason he fell out of the first round was because of a torn Achilles he suffered at his Pro Day in March. After being activated from the Non-Football Injury List and being a full participant in practice leading up to the Saints game, Ojabo will likely be making his NFL debut in the Ravens’ first or second game back from their Week 10 bye. While he is not eligible for a letter grade at this time, he could very well earn a high final grade after giving the team’s already-loaded pass rush even more juice down the stretch and in the postseason.

Grade: N/A

Travis Jones

The third-round defensive tackle out of UCONN missed the first two weeks of the regular season with a hyperextension in his knee but has been a key cog in the Ravens’ front seven ever since. He took over as the starting nose tackle after veteran Michael Pierce suffered a season-ending torn biceps injury and flashed his elite potential as both a pass rusher and run defender.

Jones possesses incredibly impressive strength and violent hands that he uses to bulldoze and through or quickly shed opposing interior offensive linemen on his way to the quarterback. In seven games, he has recorded 10 total tackles including one for a loss, a pair of quarterback hits, one sack, and a batted pass at the line of scrimmage.

Grade: B

Daniel Faalele

The fourth-round offensive tackle out of Minnesota has seen limited action through the team’s first nine games but performed well when called upon. Despite being a career right tackle, he was thrust into the starting lineup on the left side in the first half in just his second-ever regular season game in Week 3 and after a rocky start, he was lights out in the second.

Faalele made his first career start the following week against the Buffalo Bills and did more than hold his own in one-on-one situations in pass protection with future Hall of Fame edge defender Von Miller. Even though he has been active for every game since then, he hasn’t played an offensive snap since Week 4. He will continue to provide quality depth at both offensive tackle spots and fill in as needed. Due to the high level of play of veteran Morgan Moses at right tackle, Faalele likely won’ get his shot to be a full-time starter as a rookie barring injury.

Grade: C+

Jayln Armour-Davis

The fourth-round cornerback out of Alabama missed most of training camp and all of the preseason before undergoing a bit of a trial by fire in the first few weeks of the season. He played a significant role in the Ravens’ epic Week 2 collapse in a loss to the Miami Dolphins that included allowing the game-winning touchdown to his former college teammate Jaylen Waddle. He made his first career start the following week against the New England Patriots but was benched after just nine defensive snaps.

Armour-Davis was a healthy scratch for the next five games from Week 4-8 and in Week 9, he played 15 snaps on special teams and none on defense. Even though he has all the physical tools for a prototypical perimeter corner, until he can prove to the coaches that he won’t consistently be a liability in coverage, he’ll likely be relegated to special teams when active for games going forward.

Grade: C-

Charlie Kolar

Like Ojabo, the fourth-round tight end out of Iowa State has yet to appear in a regular season game and missed the entire preseason but could be a factor in the second half of the year after he was activated from injured reserve on November 8, 2022, following the team’s Week 9 game. The 6-foot-6 and 250-pounder will join an already loaded depth chart at his position group and will provide starting quarterback Lamar Jackson with another athletic big-bodied target in the passing game that could be a dangerous threat in the red zone.

Grade: N/A

Jordan Stout

The fourth-round punter didn’t carry over the dominance he showed in the preseason that made him look like he was Pro Bowl bound and an All-Pro from day one but has still been solid nonetheless. He hasn’t been the best or most consistent first-year player at his position as that distinction belongs to Tennessee Titans’ undrafted gem Ryan Stonehouse who leads the league with 53 yards per punt.

However, Stout isn’t that far behind with his average of 48.8 which ranks just outside of the top 10 according to Pro Football Reference. He has had some impressive performances where he played a vital role in winning the battle for field position with some field-flipping boots that pinned opposing offenses back deep. Most importantly, he has been excellent in executing holding duties for future Hall of Fame kicker Justin Tucker.

Grade: B+

Isaiah Likely

The fourth-round tight end out of Coastal Carolina had an underwhelming start to the regular season given all the hype and lofty expectations he garnered during and following an outstanding performance in the preseason. However, after having just 10 receptions on 18 targets for 104 receiving yards and no scores in the first seven games of the year, Likely stepped up in the two games just before the Ravens’ bye in place of All-Pro Mark Andrews with seven catches on 12 targets for 101 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

He is dangerous after the catch and has also made tremendous strides in his run-blocking both as an inline and downfield blocker. His recent emergence coupled with the season-ending injury to second-year No. 1 wide receiver Rashod Bateman will more likely lead to an even larger role for Likely down the stretch since the Ravens possess the deepest and most talented group of tight ends in the entire league.

Grade: B

Damarion ‘Pepe’ Williams

The fourth-round cornerback out of Houston has provided decent depth on defense and special teams through the first nine weeks of the season. He has been active for every game and has seen defensive snaps in all but one as he rotates with Marlon Humphrey at the nickel spot.

While the undersized defensive back has made some nice plays in coverage, opposing teams will go after him at times in high-leverage passing situations and especially when they like the matchup with a dynamic or just bigger-bodied pass catcher give. Williams has recorded 21 total tackles including one for a loss and a pair of pass deflections, one of which came on a big hit on All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill in Week 2.

Grade: C+

Tyler Badie

The sixth-round running back out of Missouri hasn’t seen any game action since playing in the preseason finale. He was released in the final round of cuts but brought back on the practice squad where he has remained since. Badie wasn’t able to beat out fourth-year pro Justice Hill or veteran Mike Davis to make the team and then the Ravens added another veteran in Kenyan Drake who has been an excellent find and stepped up big-time for them through the first nine weeks of the season. Barring a season-ending injury to one of the running backs on the active roster, this will essentially be a redshirt year for the former SEC standout.

Grade: N/A