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Reviewing Ravens’ rookie class after 2022 season

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Entering the 2022 season with one of the largest draft classes in franchise history, the Ravens received no shortage of contributions from their rookies.

Five of Baltimore’s 11 draft picks played at least 200 offensive or defensive snaps, and all but one — sixth-round running back Tyler Badie — appeared in at least two games in the regular season. Multiple rookie free agents also saw action, a list that included Week 18 starting quarterback Anthony Brown.

With the Ravens expected to be very tight against the salary cap this offseason and scheduled to have only five picks in the 2023 draft, much will be expected of this rookie class in its second year. And that extends beyond first-round picks Kyle Hamilton and Tyler Linderbaum, who were named to the Professional Football Writers of America All-Rookie team on Tuesday.

“I think those guys did well across the board, but we think they have a lot more to give too,” said general manager Eric DeCosta about the 2022 rookie class. “These guys are young players, and what we see often times is guys get a lot better. They come in here their second year, they’re in the offseason program, they learn, they understand what it means to be a pro, and they play a lot better. That’s what we expect, and that’s what we demand.

“The fact that some of these guys played as well as they did this year, that is a good indication that their futures are very bright, and I think a lot of these guys have a chance to be good players.”

Below is a look at each of Baltimore’s 13 rookies to play at least one regular-season snap and complete the 2022 season with the organization:

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S Kyle Hamilton
Draft position: First round, 14th overall
Defensive snaps: 548 over 16 games
Synopsis: Under great scrutiny over the summer as many overreacted to meaningless practice drills that strongly favor offensive players, the Notre Dame product did get off to a slow start as defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald moved him around the secondary. However, Hamilton eventually settled into the nickel role, which had been an early problem after No. 3 cornerback Kyle Fuller suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1. Admittedly thinking too much early on, the 6-foot-4, 221-pound Hamilton began playing faster and more consistently with Pro Football Focus even grading him first among qualified safeties even though he rarely played there after the first few games. The question now becomes whether Hamilton transitions to a more conventional safety role — especially if Chuck Clark doesn’t return — or continues as more of a Swiss Army knife playing closer to the line of scrimmage after a very promising second half of his rookie season.

C Tyler Linderbaum
Draft position: First round, 25th overall
Offensive snaps: 1,094 over 17 games
Synopsis: You don’t draft a center in the first round without All-Pro expectations, and the Iowa standout showed the potential to become that kind of player in the future after starting all 17 games and playing all but two offensive snaps all season. Though bigger defensive tackles did pose a challenge to his smaller 6-foot-2, 305-pound frame in pass protection, Linderbaum thrived as a run blocker with his uncanny ability to reach the second level. The next step for Linderbaum will be getting stronger with a full offseason in Owings Mills, but it will be interesting to see how the run blocking schemes evolve with a new offensive coordinator. Shifting to more zone blocking would only highlight Linderbaum’s strengths.

OLB David Ojabo
Draft position: Second round, 45th overall
Defensive snaps: 21 over two games
Synopsis: Despite optimism that the 6-foot-4, 255-pound edge rusher could be a late-season X factor after making his practice debut in mid-October, Ojabo only saw extensive game action in the regular-season finale. This selection was always about 2023 and beyond after the Michigan product tore his Achilles tendon in March, which explained why he was available midway through the second round. Expectations remain high as Ojabo will now have a full offseason to return to pre-injury form and develop his raw pass-rushing talents off the edge. In a perfect world, Ojabo would have contributed more as a rookie, but being able to practice over the last three months left him in a good place entering the spring and summer.

DT Travis Jones
Draft position: Third round, 76th overall
Defensive snaps: 324 over 15 games
Synopsis: A preseason knee injury slowed his summer momentum, but the 6-foot-4, 334-pound defensive lineman still became a useful member of a rotation that needed him even more after veteran nose tackle Michael Pierce was lost for the season in Week 3. Jones graded 60th out of 126 qualified interior defensive linemen, according to PFF. With Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington both entering contract years in 2023, the former Connecticut star will be expected to make a big jump in his second season.

OT Daniel Faalele
Draft position: Fourth round, 110th overall
Offensive snaps: 170 over 16 games
Synopsis: With the 6-foot-8, 380-pound lineman regarded as the potential right tackle of the future entering his rookie campaign, it’s ironic that Faalele saw most of his game action at left tackle after early-season injuries to Ja’Wuan James and Patrick Mekari. It’s not surprising that the Minnesota product struggled on the blind side, especially with his extensive playing time coming against three tough defenses in New England, Buffalo, and Denver. Veteran right tackle Morgan Moses remains under contract at a reasonable $4 million for 2023, so Faalele figures to have more time to develop this offseason.

CB Jalyn Armour-Davis
Draft position: Fourth round, 119th overall
Defensive snaps: 50 over four games
Synopsis: The outside corner from Alabama went from starting in Week 3 to being benched a couple series into that contest and appearing in only one more game for the remainder of the season. As was the case in his college career, injuries were a problem as Armour-Davis ultimately landed on injured reserve with a hip issue in late November. The Ravens clearly liked his potential throwing him into the fire early on, but this figures to be a big spring and summer for the 6-foot-1, 195-pound defensive back’s development and placement on the depth chart.

TE Charlie Kolar
Draft position: Fourth round, 128th overall
Offensive snaps: 36 over two games
Synopsis: Summer sports hernia surgery derailed Kolar’s chances of becoming any kind of a meaningful factor in his rookie season, but he flashed his upside in Week 18 with four catches for 49 yards on six targets. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end needs to improve his blocking skills, but he’ll compete with draft classmate Isaiah Likely for playing time behind Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews next season.

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P Jordan Stout
Draft position: Fourth round, 130th overall
Special teams snaps: 132 over 17 games
Synopsis: Selecting a punter in the fourth round leads to high expectations, and the Penn State product finished an underwhelming 27th in net punting average while the undrafted Ryan Stonehouse and fellow fourth-round pick Jake Camarda outperformed him as rookies. That’s not to suggest Stout won’t still develop into a very good punter, of course, but he’ll need to be better to justify using a fourth-round pick on him.

TE Isaiah Likely
Draft position: Fourth round, 139th overall
Offensive snaps: 414 over 16 games
Synopsis: The best of Baltimore’s rookies beyond the first-round picks, Likely finished fourth on the team in receptions (36) and receiving yards (373) and tied for second in touchdown catches (three). His best games came in the absence of Andrews, so it will be up to the new offensive coordinator to try to unlock the upside of having both tight ends on the field together. The 6-foot-4, 241-pound Coastal Carolina product showed promising growth as a blocker after a rough start, but his ability to break tackles and gain yards after the catch is what makes Likely a candidate for a breakout season in 2023.

CB Damarion Williams
Draft position: Fourth round, 141st overall
Defensive snaps: 226 over 14 games
Synopsis: Though seeing most of his first-year action at the nickel, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Williams showed some versatility in the preseason and remains a depth piece to watch despite struggling in pass coverage. The former Houston standpoint saw only 13 defensive snaps after the Week 10 bye as Hamilton became the primary nickel.

QB Anthony Brown
Draft position: Undrafted
Offensive snaps: 101 over two games
Synopsis: The rookie free agent out of Oregon acquitted himself well after injuries forced him into action in the Week 14 win at Pittsburgh. However, his Week 18 start at Cincinnati didn’t go as smoothly as he committed three turnovers before settling down to play a respectable second half. With Lamar Jackson’s status unclear and Huntley set to become a restricted free agent, Brown still figures to be in the mix for the backup quarterback job.

ILB Josh Ross
Draft position: Undrafted
Special teams snaps: 36 over two games
Synopsis: The only rookie free agent to make the initial 53-man roster after an impressive summer, Ross landed on IR after sustaining a foot injury in Week 2. Despite being designated to return in late December, the Michigan product exhausted his 21-day practice window without being activated.

DT Rayshad Nichols
Draft position: Undrafted
Defensive snaps: 15 in one game
Synopsis: With Calais Campbell contemplating retirement and Brent Urban hitting free agency, the 6-foot-2, 305-pound Nichols will be competing for a 53-man roster spot after signing a reserve-future deal last week.

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