Baltimore Ravens 2021 NFL Draft Recapby Christopher Gallagher May 4, 2021 0 comments
Among the final five selections in the first round for the second season in a row, the Baltimore Ravens headed into the 2021 NFL draft with two of the five, following the trade of tackle Orlando Brown Jr to the Kansas City Chiefs. They needed a wide receiver to surround former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson with help on the outside. The Ravens also had a glaring need at the edge spot on their defense after both Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue departed in free agency.
Furthermore, the team also needed to bolster its offensive line. Making eight selections throughout the weekend, the team selected Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman with pick number 27 before adding Penn State pass rusher Jayson Oweh with the penultimate pick of the opening round. Adding depth in the secondary and along the offensive line on night two, the team selected Georgia offensive lineman Ben Cleveland and SMU cornerback Brandon Stephens.
Best Pick: Rashod Bateman (Round 1, Pick 27)
A silky smooth route runner. Bateman can separate from opposing defenders with ease while displaying stellar footwork and quickness. According to pro football focus, the 21-year-old ranked inside the 71st and 90th percentiles in yards after the catch per reception and forced missed tackle per reception. Furthermore, while he does not have the speed-burning potential like other wideouts in the 2021 class, Bateman can win vertically with the hands, frame, and body control to be a serious threat downfield.
In need of an upgrade at the wide receiver spot heading into the offseason, the Ravens ranked 32nd in the league last season in pass yards per game. Led by former first-round pick Marquise Brown, the team has failed to garner any consistent production behind the former Oklahoma Sooner. This makes Bateman a tremendous value pick late in round one.
For more on Bateman, check out our scouting report on him here
Worst Pick: Brandon Stephens (Round 3, Pick 104)
A former running back at UCLA, Stephens transferred to SMU after remaining an afterthought on the Bruins depth chart. Ultimately switching to the cornerback position, he quickly became productive as a member of the Mustangs secondary. Recording 43 tackles, ten passes defended, and one interception during his senior season, the senior remains a raw developmental option.
Picked with the 104th selection in the third round, the team passed on Cincinnati tackle James Hudson and Texas A&M lineman Dan Moore Jr. as potential long-term options for the whole left by Orlando Brown at the right tackle spot. Set in the secondary heading into next season, Baltimore remains led by standout cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. While there remains the potential for Stephens to develop into a serviceable defensive back at the NFL level behind one of the best systems in football, this pick was a reach in round three.
Sleeper Pick: Shaun Wade (Round 5, pick 160)
Likely a first-round pick if he chooses to declare for the draft following his standout 2019 campaign, Wade saw his stock take a dramatic hit following an up and down 2020 campaign. Making the switch to the boundary following a primary nickel role during his first two seasons in Columbus, the redshirt junior looked uncomfortable at times on the outside, leading him to endure his fair share of struggles.
Likely destined for a move to safety at the NFL level, Wade offers the athleticism, length, and tackling to make an impact both as a strong safety and big nickel option on defense early on. A need for the Ravens heading into 2021 and beyond; the team heads into next season with Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott atop the depth chart at the safety spot. However, with a lack of depth at the position, Wade offers high upside and potential as a day three pick.
For more on Wade, check out our scouting report on him here
Among the best classes once again following the completion of the 2021 NFL draft, the Ravens hit on all three positions of need early. Improving their passing game with the addition of Bateman both as a slot receiver and target on the perimeter, the team also bolstered their pass rush with the selection of Oweh. Furthermore, the Ravens also added a potential starter at the left guard or center position by selecting Georgia’s Ben Cleveland.
A dominant run blocker at 6’5″, Cleveland matches Greg Roman’s heavy run scheme perfectly, making it a great day two value pick for general manager Eric Decosta. Lastly, the team rounded out their class by taking two players with high upside in the secondary in Wade and Stephens. Along with this Baltimore also added the top-ranked H-back in the class in Ben Mason to help lead the run game for J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.
Overall Grade: B+
Make sure to check out all of our 2021 NFL Draft Team Recaps.