To say that the 2023 NFL offseason has been rough for the Baltimore Ravens would be a bit of an understatement. Lamar Jackson’s contract situation has continued to get worse and worse, and a split seems like a very real possibility. This saga has heavily limited what the Ravens can do this offseason, as they have made no major moves through free agency or trade to this point.
If there’s one thing Baltimore can look forward to, though, it’s the 2023 NFL Draft. The Ravens currently hold the 22nd overall pick in the draft, which should allow them to select an impact player at a position of need. Depending on how the rest of the offseason goes, particularly when it comes to a potential Jackson trade, the Ravens could find themselves picking multiple times in the first round.
The first round of the draft is obviously exciting, but the later part of the draft might be even more so. Baltimore has a great track record of hitting on picks in the later rounds, with guys like Kyle Juszczyk, Ryan Jensen, Za’Darius Smith, Darren Waller, Matt Judon and Chuck Clark all being picked on Day 3 of the draft in the past decade. They’ve also hit on several Day 2 picks over that same stretch such as Tyus Bowser, Orlando Brown Jr., and Mark Andrews.
With the team in an uncertain spot, it’s crucial that Baltimore continues to hit on their later picks. But who should the Ravens be targeting with these picks? Without further ado, let’s take a look at three sleeper picks in the later rounds that the Ravens should keep an eye on.
3. Viliami Fehoko, EDGE, San Jose State
Baltimore’s pass rush was actually pretty good in 2022, finishing tied for fifth in the league with 48 sacks. However, the Ravens have lost major pieces from that pass rush so far this offseason. Calais Campbell (5.5 sacks) signed with the Atlanta Falcons after getting released, and while Justin Houston (9.5 sacks) and Jason Pierre-Paul (three sacks) are still free agents, they both don’t seem likely to return. Those three players accounted for over a third of the Ravens’ sacks last season, leaving a massive hole in the unit.
Even if it doesn’t come early on, Baltimore must address this need in the draft. If they choose to address it in the later rounds, then Viliami Fehoko would be a terrific selection. Fehoko hasn’t generated a ton of buzz ahead of the draft due to the fact that he played at a small school in San Jose State, but he absolutely deserves more attention.
At 6’4, 263 pounds, Fehoko fits well as an edge rusher in Baltimore’s 3-4 defense. He was a great pass rusher during his time with the Spartans, recording 22 sacks over the last three seasons. He has also been an effective run defender, racking up 44 tackles for loss in that same time frame.
Fehoko’s analytics back up his surface-level stats, as he earned a 90.2 pass-rushing grade and 87.4 run-defense grade from PFF in 2022, and his overall grade of 90.9 ranked fifth out of 862 edge rushers. He projects as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 pick on big boards, and the Ravens should consider taking him if he’s available when they are on the board in this range.
2. Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
Pass defense was a major weakness for the Ravens in 2022, and it held back the rest of their unit greatly. They allowed 232.8 passing yards per game, which was the seventh highest figure in the league. Injuries, especially Marcus Williams’, played a role in those struggles, but even if he can stay healthy in 2023, the secondary still needs a ton of work.
Early on this offseason, that statement has only become even more true. Marcus Peters, who admittedly had a rough 2022 season, is a free agent who also doesn’t appear likely to return, and Baltimore doesn’t have a clear replacement for him. Marlon Humphrey is great, but one great player doesn’t save an entire secondary.
It seems very likely that the Ravens will take a secondary player at some point in the draft. One player who could be an option later on is Darius Rush, who projects as a potential third-round pick. Rush’s South Carolina teammate and fellow corner Cam Smith has been getting some first-round buzz, but Rush may end up being the better player. He’s bigger, faster, and has had a great pre-draft process, particularly at the Senior Bowl.
Since Rush became a starter in 2021, he has posted 18 passes defended and three interceptions. On 31 targets last season, he had six breakups and two interceptions. Although he allowed some big plays, his overall game is very solid, and he could become a top-tier NFL corner.
1. Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton
Baltimore’s wide receiver woes have been beaten more than a dead horse, so let’s not waste much time here. The Ravens had one of the league’s worst passing offenses last year and they lack a true impact receiver aside from Andrews. Granted, other factors like Jackson’s injury and Greg Roman’s scheme played a role in that, but this has been an issue for years now, and it’s time to address it. Regardless if it’s Jackson or someone else under center, they need someone to throw the ball to.
It’s very possible Baltimore ends up taking a receiver in the first round, but they could also take one later in the draft even if they do. In that case, Andrei Iosivas could be a fantastic sleeper pick at the position. The Princeton wideout dominated in the Ivy League, and a strong pre-draft process has seen his stock skyrocket.
Iosivas possesses good size for a wideout at 6’3, 205 pounds, and he has good speed with a 4.43 40-yard dash. The production is there too, as he had 66 catches for 943 yards and seven touchdowns in 10 games last season. Currently, the Hawaii-native projects as a third or fourth-round pick, and he’s still available then, the Ravens must take a good, long look at drafting him.
The post 3 sleeper prospects for Ravens to target in 2023 NFL Draft appeared first on ClutchPoints.