The Baltimore Ravens didn’t select a wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft, but it’s not because they didn’t want to. Having traded Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown on April 28, the Ravens hoped to address the wide receiver position at some point in the draft. But it didn’t happen, in part because their archrival — the Pittsburgh Steelers — selected “Baltimore’s guy,” as Peter King of NBC Sports puts it, one pick before the Ravens in the middle of the fourth round.
King tells the story in his May 1 Football Morning in America column, which centers around the time he spent in Baltimore’s draft room on Saturday April 30.
Having already selected four players in the fourth round — including mammoth offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis, tight end Charlie Kolar and punter Jordan Stout — the Ravens planned to add Memphis wide receiver Calvin Austin III, “a smurfy guy who runs a 4.32 40,” just like Hollywood Brown, notes King.
“Austin wasn’t a must-have. But he was the next target,” relates King, before going on to describe the reaction to the Ravens hearing Austin’s name called by the Steelers.
“Gotta be kidding me,” came an exasperated cry.
But Ravens head coach John Harbaugh didn’t blink, nor did general manager Eric DeCosta, says King, relating how Harbaugh and DeCosta passed on open trade offers with Kansas City and Jacksonville to select another tight end, going with Isaiah Likely of Coastal Carolina – the fifth of the six selections the Ravens would make in the fourth round.
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Calvin Austin the ‘Biggest Day 3 Steal’?
Of course, it remains to be seen how Calvin Austin III — not to mention Isaiah Likely — fare in the NFL. But it’s worth noting that Pro Football Focus (PFF) has praised Pittsburgh’s selection of Austin, calling him the biggest steal of Day 3 of the 2022 draft.
“Austin has legit track speed and quickness. His athleticism, top-tier route-running and excellent release package help him overcome his diminutive stature,” says Anthony Treash on behalf of PFF, making reference to the fact that Austin stands just 5-foot-7 and weighs a mere 173 pounds.
Yet he was very durable at Memphis, appearing in a total of 49 games and averaging 16.3 yards per reception, per the Memphis Tigers’ official website. He finished his Tigers career ranked second all-time in program history in receiving touchdowns (22), fourth in receiving yards (2,541) and fifth in receptions (156).
The Ravens Foiled Pittsburgh’s Plan to Draft Travis Jones?
Perhaps turnabout is fair play, though. Steelers insider Gerry Dulac recently indicated that Pittsburgh hoped to draft Connecticut defensive tackle Travis Jones with its 2022 third-round pick. That makes sense, as nose tackle/defensive tackle is a position of need for the Steelers — or will be in the very near future — as starter Tyson Alualu turns 35 years old later this month and will be attempting to come back from the fractured ankle he suffered during the second game of the 2021 season.
Alas, the Ravens selected Jones No. 76 overall, eight spots before the Steelers’ next pick, which means the interior of Pittsburgh’s offensive line will likely be contending with the hulking 325-pounder for years to come.
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