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Ravens News 4/17: Underrated Prospects

As Ravens prepare for NFL Draft, the temporary spotlight shifts to returning players

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

Daniel Faalele, OT

Team officials have expressed confidence in Faalele’s ability to win the right tackle job, which opened with the trade of Morgan Moses to the New York Jets. It makes sense to put that carrot in front of Faalele, but him getting that opportunity would likely mean the Ravens didn’t take a tackle on Day 1 or 2 of the draft. That would be considered a surprise. A 2022 fourth-round pick, Faalele has worked hard on his body, conditioning and fundamentals. When he’s played, consistency has been an issue. He has a lot to gain — and potentially lose — this offseason.

David Ojabo, OLB

Ojabo has played just five games over two seasons after the Ravens picked him in the second round of the 2022 draft, knowing that he would miss most, if not all, of his rookie year after he tore his Achilles at his pro day. There was hope for a breakthrough last season, but Ojabo struggled in the preseason and then hurt his knee. The Ravens need one of their young pass rushers to develop into a difference-maker, capable of registering eight to 10 sacks. The potential is there for Ojabo, but he’ll need to remain healthy and play with more confidence and assertiveness than he did last summer.

Top three 2024 NFL free agents at every defensive position: Justin Simmons, Stephon Gilmore best available

Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports

Edge rusher

Emmanuel Ogbah

Ogbah had just 19 pressures and 5.0 sacks last season, but the numbers were deceiving as he had a 13.9% pressure rate. He played just 240 snaps in 15 games and still can get to the quarterback as a rotational pass rusher.

Cornerback

Steven Nelson

Nelson had his best season in coverage in 2023, a perfect time to get looks in free agency. He allowed just one passing touchdown and a 40.4 passer rating when being targeted, while earning four interceptions.

Being 31 could be a reason why Nelson has not signed with a team yet. He might wait until after the draft.

Get to Know Edge Rushers in This Year’s Draft

Clifton Brown, BaltimoreRavens.com

Marshawn Kneeland, Western Michigan

2023 stats: 10 games, 57 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss

Why he could fit: Setting the edge is one of Kneeland’s strengths, which could fit well in Baltimore’s scheme. He performed well at both the Senior Bowl and Combine and is not expected to remain on the board past Round 2. Kneeland fits the profile of a potential Baltimore second-round pick.

Chris Braswell, Alabama

2023 stats: 14 games 42 tackles, 8 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss

Why he could fit: A Baltimore native, Braswell was a high school star at St. Frances Academy and would love to return home. He didn’t become a full-time starter for the Crimson Tide until 2023 and made the most of his opportunity with a breakout season. He could be a steal on Day 2 as the next Ravens’ draft pick from Alabama.

2024 NFL Draft: 5 most underrated prospects

Sam Monson, PFF

WR TROY FRANKLIN, OREGON

Brian Thomas Jr. is the consensus WR4 in this draft while Franklin is ranked four spots below that and 21 spots lower on the overall consensus board. However, over the last two seasons in similar roles, Franklin has been the more productive player. Even focusing on the 2023 season alone you could argue Frankin was the better player, though Thomas scored three more touchdowns and can at least rival him in some other statistical categories.

Franklin averaged 3.32 yards per route run in 2023, more than half a yard higher than Thomas.

Even as designated deep threats, it’s hard to understand the discrepancy between the two receivers. Thomas again scored more touchdowns than Franklin on deep targets this season, but outside of that, their numbers were remarkably similar, as Franklin dealt with a quarterback significantly less inclined to take those deep shots (Bo Nix) than Thomas (Jayden Daniels).

It’s fair to say that Franklin hasn’t been the most well-rounded receiver in the game and wonder how that translates to the next level, but the same criticisms apply to Thomas, and while the LSU product did run a faster 40 time (4.33 seconds vs. 4.41), both players displayed high-end NFL speed.

13 NFL draft prospects who could impact new kickoff rule

Jeff Legwold, ESPN

Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina

Legette may be the most physically imposing potential returner in this draft. At 6-1, 221 pounds, he ran a 4.39 40 at the combine and consistently showed toughness as a runner with plenty of yards after the catch. His best year as a kickoff returner was 2022, when he averaged 29.4 yards per return with a touchdown. He averaged 21.3 yards per return in 2023. Evaluators see Legette as an ascending player — 2023 was his first season with more than 30 targets, and he went on to lead the team in receptions (71) and receiving yards (1,255).

Number to know: His 29.4-yard kickoff return average in 2022 is a school record. The last two South Carolina players to return kickoffs for touchdowns are Legette and Deebo Samuel (2018).

Kris Abrams-Draine, CB, Missouri

Projected as a Day 2 pick on defense, Abrams-Draine was a first-team All-SEC selection this past season with 50 tackles and four interceptions. After being the Tigers’ front-line returner in 2021 with 22.4 yards per return (including a 100-yard touchdown return), he wasn’t asked to do it much over the past two years (six returns in 2022 and two in 2023). But given that he arrived at Missouri as a wide receiver and switched to defensive back in his second year, he has the profile of a player who will get a long look as a returner.

Number to know: Abrams-Draine led the Tigers in pass breakups in all three of his seasons on defense, with 34 in 38 games.

2024 NFL All-Trades Mock Draft: 32 Deals for All 32 Teams

Matt Verderame, Sports Illustrated

24. Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Paul, OT, Houston

The deal: Cowboys trade No. 24 (237) to Ravens for No. 30 (196) and No. 93 (42).

The Ravens need to replenish their offensive line after losing tackle Morgan Moses, and guards Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson. Paul is a hulking left tackle (6’7”, 331 pounds) who can play the right side as a complement to Ronnie Stanley.

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