The picks are in for the 2023 draft, so what should we expect from the Ravens’ selections this fall and beyond?
With general manager Eric DeCosta making just six picks after a combined 29 over the previous three drafts, Baltimore certainly has a smaller batch of drafted talent than usual with roster room to add a sizable group of rookie free agents. The six picks were the fewest made by the Ravens since their 2009 draft class that also consisted of six players.
Below is an early look at how each rookie fits now and in the future:
WR Zay Flowers
Drafted: First round (22nd overall) out of Boston College
2023 projected role: Given his suddenness that plays at every level and the expected increase in 11 personnel usage by new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Flowers should see plenty of snaps as the No. 3 wide receiver behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman, especially in the slot.
Long-term outlook: Flowers is the rare Baltimore first-round pick who doesn’t have to be “the man” at his position right away and should benefit from working with Beckham in that regard. And though it’s difficult to project any 5-foot-9, 185-pound prospect to become a true No. 1 receiver, he has all the tools to become a dynamic No. 2 option at the very least, which would still make this a successful draft pick.
ILB Trenton Simpson
Drafted: Third round (86th overall) out of Clemson
2023 projected role: Assuming 2020 first-round pick Patrick Queen isn’t traded, Simpson projects to be a significant special-teams contributor and the top backup at the “Will” linebacker position with the potential to see limited snaps in sub packages.
Long-term outlook: It became evident that Queen’s long-term future wasn’t in Baltimore from the moment Roquan Smith signed a $100 million contract extension in January, and the third-round selection of Simpson only reinforced that reality. Having the opportunity to learn from a force multiplier in Smith should give Simpson every chance to emerge as an effective starter for 2024 and beyond, especially if he can hold up in pass coverage.
OLB Tavius Robinson
Drafted: Fourth round (124th overall) out of Mississippi
2023 projected role: Robinson will need to improve setting the edge against the run, but his 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame and potential to shift inside for certain defensive packages should give him a decent chance to crack the pass-rush rotation at some point during his rookie campaign.
Long-term outlook: General manager Eric DeCosta compared Robinson’s potential to “more like a guy like Za’Darius Smith,” but even the three-time Pro Bowl selection needed a couple years to develop into an impactful pass rusher and consistent member of the rotation. If he can develop into a contributor coming anything close to Smith or former Raven Pernell McPhee, you’ll gladly take that from a fourth-round pick.
CB Kyu Blu Kelly
Drafted: Fifth round (157th overall) out of Stanford
2023 projected role: The 6-foot, 195-pound defensive back will be competing for a roster spot and vying for a role on special teams against a number of young players and veterans who better fit the profile for No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6 cornerback jobs on the current depth chart.
Long-term outlook: Kelly was a four-year starter at Stanford and is the son of former longtime NFL cornerback Brian Kelly, meaning he comes to the league with an impressive pedigree and a good understanding of what it means to succeed at the next level. You never realistically expect a Day 3 cornerback to develop into a starter, but Kelly has the size and athletic profile to become a solid backup.
OL Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu
Drafted: Sixth round (199th overall) out of Oregon
2023 projected role: Much like Daniel Faalele a year ago, the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Aumavae-Laulu is much more of a developmental prospect, but there is a starting job open at left guard and he’s projected by many to move inside after playing right tackle for the Ducks.
Long-term outlook: Offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris will enjoy molding a prospect as big and powerful as Aumavae-Laulu, but he doesn’t bend well and his technique is in need of major work, limitations you’d expect from a sixth-round pick. Given the age on the current right side of the offensive line, Aumavae-Laulu will aim to develop into a game-day backup with starter potential in the future.
G Andrew Vorhees
Drafted: Seventh round (229th overall) out of USC
2023 projected role: After suffering a torn ACL at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Vorhees is expected to miss the entire 2023 season.
Long-term outlook: If you’re going to swap a 2024 sixth-round pick for a seventh-round selection, why not use it on someone with legitimate starter potential if he can make a full recovery from his knee injury? Vorhees led all combine participants in bench press reps even after sustaining his unfortunate injury, a reflection of the strength and determination that made him a multiyear starter for the Trojans and first-team AP All-American last year.