2021 NFL Draft Grade: Baltimore Ravens
Round 1 Pick 27: WR Rashod Bateman
Round 1 Pick 31: EDGE Odafe Oweh
Round 3 Pick 94: G Ben Cleveland
Round 3 Pick 104: CB Brandon Stephens
Round 4 Pick 131: WR Tylan Wallace
Round 5 Pick 160: CB Shaun Wade
Round 5 Pick 171: DE Daelin Hayes
Round 5 Pick 184: FB Ben Mason
The Ravens’ 2020 offense was far too reliant on Lamar Jackson running the ball rather than throwing to his receivers. The strategy worked beautifully in 2019, with Jackson winning an MVP award, but opponents began figuring out how to contain him. Jackson needs to evolve his game to the point where he can rely on his arm more, but the Ravens also needed to provide him with more reliable targets.
This was clearly Baltimore’s goal going into the NFL Draft as they picked Minnesota WR, Rashod Bateman, 27th overall. Bateman struggled mightily in 2020, especially with drops, but in 2018 and 2019 he was a stud for the Golden Gophers. Should Bateman return to that previous form, he could become the true WR1 that the Ravens need.
That pick makes sense, but their second first-rounder was questionable at the very least. After trading Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs just a couple weeks ago, an early focus on OT would make sense, especially with Teven Jenkins available. Instead, they chose to go with edge rusher, Odafe Oweh. Oweh is a very talented athlete, but as a pass rusher, he is extremely raw. He had zero sacks in 2020 and only seven in 24 career collegiate games. He will have to develop quickly for this pick to be a success.
To Baltimore’s credit, they did get one of the more talented guards in the draft, Ben Cleveland, with the 94th pick. He will provide great run blocking for J.K. Dobbins, but pass protection and health are both big question marks for Cleveland. Dobbins had a very successful rookie campaign splitting time with Gus Edwards and Mark Ingram. Ingram is now in Houston though, so Dobbins will have to carry a larger load in 2021.
The Ravens also drafted two of the players I was most intrigued by in Day Three: WR Tylan Wallace and CB Shaun Wade. Wallace’s fall in the draft is especially strange. He thrived during the 2020 season with Oklahoma State and has been a starter since 2018. He is probably more of a slot in the NFL, but he is not the typical slot guy. He is built like a truck but still has great speed.
Shaun Wade on the other hand fell off during the 2020 season. He is probably one of the few cases where opting out would have helped his stock. Wade was moved to the outside and struggled mightily, but if he is kept as a nickel corner or even a safety, he could be very reliable. Let’s not forget he is a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Had the Ravens taken Teven Jenkins at 31, this draft may have been an A+. Baltimore found solid receivers in Bateman and Wallace to put alongside Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins, and while their defensive picks have question marks, there is high upside to all of them. We’ve seen all these players thrive at the collegiate level, and now it’s time to see how many can put it all together in the NFL.