NFL Draft grades are an extremely popular concept within sports media. Then again, so are NFL redrafts.

Of course, I would say that the popularity of these concepts is matched only by their uselessness. I’ll revisit that in a second.

Let’s get this out of the way at the start. I, like literally every human on the face of the planet, believe the Ravens did well in the draft. And not just “the Ravens usually do well in the draft” well. I mean, I think they did very well in the NFL Draft.

Picks in the first three rounds are the picks that truly matter, and it’s hard to ignore how the Ravens selected four players (safety Kyle Hamilton, center Tyler Linderbaum, edge rusher David Ojabo, defensive tackle Travis Jones) in those rounds who are are universally regarded as being among the most talented players at their position in this class. They also selected some very intriguing prospects on Saturday, but the fourth round and beyond is a bit of a crapshoot.

I won’t give them a grade because it is impossible to see the future. But for as far as I (or anyone else) is capable of analyzing a group of humans who have never played a professional football game, I believe this was a very good weekend for the Baltimore Ravens.

The reason we’ve traditionally thought the “draft grade” concept was so silly is because we can’t actually know how any of these careers are going to go. As we know, many of the players scouted as the most pro-ready throughout the years have failed to become even serviceable players. And you’ve probably never heard this before, but the most accomplished quarterback in football history barely cracked the top 200 picks in the 2000 NFL Draft. I’m surprised no one ever mentions that.

But that’s not the only reason why draft grades are so silly. The other is because we shouldn’t be looking at every team’s drafts through a singular prism. We’re crediting the Ravens for “staying true to their board” and not reaching to fill a need. The Bengals similarly prioritized player over need last year and Ja’Marr Chase helped lead them to a Super Bowl … where their offensive line issues reared their ugly heads again.

The Ravens, of course, have served themselves well by largely sticking with the “Best Player Available” concept throughout the years. (The whole Hayden Hurst-Derwin James thing still stands out a bit, however.) The M.O. has helped keep the Ravens competitive almost every year since the turn of the century and has delivered them a pair of Super Bowl titles in the process. There is good reason to want to stand by the concept!

But “best player available” teams aren’t the only ones that win Super Bowls. Hell, it’s not even the best drafting teams that win Super Bowls! The Rams’ only top-100 pick last year was second-round wide receiver Tutu Atwell, who had as many catches last year for the Rams as Aaron Donald did. The Seahawks have been to two Super Bowls since the Ravens’ last appearance and their drafting is the stuff that memes are made of.

There lies my conflict about the Ravens’ 2022 draft. I truly believe they did about as well as they could do in terms of setting themselves up with talented, solid players for years to come. BUT the draft is also the final real opportunity during an offseason to solidify a roster for a potential Super Bowl run. You might describe that as “drafting for need.” We’ve been indoctrinated in Baltimore to believe that “best player” is the correct way of drafting and “need” is a mistake.

We just have no definitive proof that the theory is actually true specifically in terms of trying to win Super Bowls.

The Ravens added four solid football players in the first three rounds of this draft. But did they solidify themselves as one of the top threats to win the Super Bowl in an insanely loaded AFC? I can’t definitely answer that question either, but it’s hard to fathom they took a drastic step closer to feeling the confetti fall in Glendale, Ariz., this year.

I believe some of their picks could be immediate contributors. David Ojabo likely can’t, but there’s no reason to think any of the other top-three-round picks couldn’t (and maybe the others). But whatever that group can add to the equation must be measured against the hole that’s left at wide receiver after the (to be fair, necessary) Hollywood Brown trade and the various questions we have about the team’s ability to generate an edge rush.

And those are real questions! You can like guys like Devin Duvernay and James Proche and Tylan Wallace, but you cannot make them proven commodities in the National Football League. You can hope for Ojabo to be able to play at some point this year, Odafe Oweh to further develop and Tyus Bowser to be totally healthy by Week 1, but you can’t guarantee any of those things.

These are legitimate questions that could impact this team’s ability to win the AFC North, and they’re completely separated from the very fair evaluation of a quality draft haul for the Ravens.

I like what they did. I think they did the right things for the long-term health of the team. And I genuinely believe they are a viable contender to win the division and the AFC. But I can’t help but be concerned that whenever the season ends, we might say that the team’s lack of a consistent receiving option besides Rashod Bateman played a role in their downfall.

There’s still time for something can be done. But it seems unlikely that something would drastically change how we feel about the roster before the season begins.

But I cannot stress this enough. I REALLY like what they did.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Glenn Clark

See all posts by Glenn Clark. Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter at @glennclarkradio