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Every year The NFL Draft feels like a holiday in the eyes of many Ravens fans.
Throughout the last 25 years, The Ravens have found continuous quality in their draft picks, which has led them to be one of the most consistently great NFL teams in modern history. Needless to say, The Ravens had a lot to live up to during The 2021 NFL Draft.
More intriguing was the fact that about a week before the draft, The Ravens sent right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to The Kansas City Chiefs for a first-round pick. This made it so that The Baltimore Ravens had two first round picks.
With Brown’s departure, some expected Baltimore to go after a tackle in the draft. They did not take one, but after the fact, they did pick up veteran Pro-Bowl tackle Alejandro Villanueva to play the right spot.
R1P27: WR Rashad Bateman (Minnesota)
It was no question that The Ravens still needed to address the wide receiver (WR) position. Their previous attempts to sign a “number 1” in free agency was met with failure. Veteran WRs such as T.Y. Hilton and JuJu Smith-Schuster turned down larger offers from Baltimore to stay with their former team. They had to settle for a less talented Sammy Watkins.
Despite this, GM Eric DeCosta claimed he was disgusted at the lack of respect portrayed towards his current Ravens wide receivers. Did DeCosta mean what he said? Maybe, but with their first pick, Baltimore still drafted a WR in Rashad Bateman.
The first thing to consider with this draft pick is The Ravens’ history with drafting players of this position, which has been nothing short of disappointing. While Bateman has potential, it should be mentioned that he did not have the best 2020 season, which he attributed to COVID causing him to lose 10 pounds.
Bateman’s potential is high, however. His skillset is exactly what The Ravens need. They do not need another slot receiver, but rather one that can play a featured role in the offense. He does a lot of the little things well; he has great hands and adequate speed. If he can work on his separation and blocking, he can become a true all-around player. Bateman could finally be the #1 receiver that The Ravens have never been able to draft.
R1P31: LB Odafe Oweh (Penn State)
Another need The Ravens had to address was edge-rusher. The Ravens lost a lot of players in that department over the offseason, including the likes of Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue.
Oweh might not have put up the most impressive numbers in college, but he is a physical specimen. According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, he recorded the best 40 time, fastest 3-cone drill, and recorded the longest broad jump amongst outside linebackers.
While Oweh’s tape leaves much to be desired, his potential is through the roof. Baltimore is known for developing raw edge prospects into Pro Bowl-caliber players, so Ravens fans should be excited about this pick. He could become the next Terrell Suggs.
R3P94: G Ben Cleveland (Georgia)
Cleveland, nicknamed “Big Country,” is already becoming a fan favorite in Baltimore, but his biggest fan might be head coach John Harbaugh, who is very high on this prospect.
He is a 6’6”, 354-pound mammoth, who especially thrives in power blocking, which fits in well with the style of running The Ravens like to do. He is quite athletic for his size too and can also contribute well to pass blocking. Baltimore looks to have a steal here in the 3rd round.
R3P104: DB Brandon Stephens (SMU)
This was a questionable pick, as most mock drafts did not have Stephens anywhere near where he was drafted.
This pick seems to be a pick based on need, he is flexible regarding positions, and most expect him to make the transition to safety, where he will play behind Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott. He is also expected to contribute on special teams.
Still, it is a question as to why the Ravens picked him so high.
R4P131: WR Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State)
One of the greatest problems which plagued The Ravens receiving core was that they had problems catching the football. The pick of Wallace is expected to address those issues, as he had the second fewest drops in college football last year.
He does not possess great speed, and is only 5’11”, but he is a very competitive playmaker who plays bigger than his size.
R5P160: CB Shaun Wade (Ohio State)
Wade was projected to be a first-round talent a year ago, but an abysmal 2020 caused him to fall to pick 160. Some of it can be attributed to his position change. The Ravens are expected to put him back in the nickel formation, where he excelled in 2019.
His upside is through the roof, and he might be an early starter once the inevitable Tavon Young injury occurs. To get a man of this talent in the 5th round is incredible.
R5P171: DE Daelin Hayes (Notre Dame)
Hayes will not wow you with his stats, but he was a leader at Notre Dame, and had a great Senior Bowl. He has great character, which The Ravens value tremendously. He likely will not become impeccably transcendent, but he could still contribute to the defense, nevertheless.
R5P184: TE/FB Ben Mason (Michigan)
Ben Mason’s two-way ability is very similar to Patrick Ricard’s playstyle. Ricard is already The Ravens’ fullback, so this pick did leave some fans scratching their heads. Ricard’s contract is expiring after this season, however, and Mason might be a cheaper option.
Mason is a strong player who can intimidate defenders with his physical style of play, and with time, he possesses the ability to develop into the next great Ravens fullback, joining the likes of Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk, and Patrick Ricard. It also does not hurt that he played under John Harbaugh’s brother in college.
NFL Pre-Season begins August 5, 2021.