Assessing the Ravens’ Draft Class
The 2021 NFL Draft is complete and the Baltimore Ravens should be happy with how the three-day event went after they brought in eight new players who they hope will solve a few longstanding problems ahead of the new season.
The new additions and the overall selection strategy have been praised by pundits, so it would be no surprise to see Baltimore Ravens odds shorten for early-season matchups later this year. Punters can head over to a reputable sportsbook right now to see the odds for games and betting picks, and to keep up with the latest news from the NFL, as well as the NBA and MLB.
Now let’s take a detailed look at the eight players who were drafted by the Ravens.
Round 1, Pick 27 – Rashod Bateman, WR
The Ravens have selected seven wide receivers in the past four drafts, but it has remained a problem area despite general manager Eric DeCosta claiming that he was “insulted” by criticism of players currently on the roster heading into the 2021 season.
It makes sense, then, that the first pick this year was for Rashod Bateman, one of the best receivers on the board and someone who will bring much-needed attributes to the team in 2021. Bateman’s aggressive play style and strong hands will enable him to play on the outside as the Ravens look to improve their offense.
Round 1, Pick 31 – Odafe Oweh, ED
The edge position has also been an issue for Baltimore, but they will now have Odafe Oweh to call on after the Penn State rusher was selected at the back end of round one. Oweh’s physical presence at six foot five and 257 pounds, coupled with his fast, disruptive style, turned heads at pro day.
While his college career wasn’t exactly productive with only three sacks across three years, his athleticism could help him to grow into a top player. Analysts were not as enthused by this pick though, with many seeing other prospects as potentially better options.
Round 3, Pick 94 – Ben Cleveland, OG
Baltimore’s penchant for physicality this year continued with the selection of offensive guard Ben Cleveland, who is six foot six and 354 pounds. The offensive line is another area where the Ravens were looking to strengthen, and Cleveland’s solid technique and powerful hands will protect Lamar Jackson on passing plays and also when he looks to move out of the pocket.
Round 3, Pick 104 – Brandon Stephens, SMU
The third-round pick of Brandon Stephens raised eyebrows during the draft as he was not highly sought after going into the event, but he could bring something extra to the Ravens’ roster. After the draft, DeCosta said that he has a “lot of upside potential” and everything to be a solid “free safety-type player.” Bringing in Stephens makes more sense when considering that both DeShon Elliot and Chuck Clark struggled with pass breakups last season.
Round 4, Pick 131 – Tylan Wallace, WR
Day three of the draft started with the Ravens dipping back in for another wide receiver – this time Tylan Wallace, who is already renowned for his explosive plays and safe hands, the latter of which helped him record just a 1.1% drop rate in the FBS last year.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay is impressed by Wallace – he stated that he will be a physical presence at all stages of the offense and that “he plays like he’s 6-3” despite only standing 5’11” tall. Wallace was initially projected to go in the second round, so this is a great pick for the Ravens.
Round 5, Pick 160 – Shaun Wade, DB
Tavon Young’s injury woes in recent seasons made additional depth at cornerback a priority, and they achieved that objective during the fifth round of the draft with the selection of Shaun Wade at pick 160.
The 22-year-old was expected to be a first-round pick a year or so ago, but he endured a difficult campaign last season following a few niggling injuries and a change of position. Wade is confident in his own ability though – after being drafted by the Ravens, he said: “I know I have first-round talent.”
Wade’s eye-catching 2019 season suggests that he has the tools to be a major force as a defensive back next season, and many onlookers agree that he offers great value as a fifth-round pick.
Round 5, Pick 171 – Daelin Hayes, ED
Despite taking Oweh early on, Baltimore added another edge player in the form of Daelin Hayes later in the draft. Hayes’ versatility will stand him in good stead, especially as the Ravens are not short of players in that position. He also plays well against the run and is adept at covering while being a vocal presence on the field. ESPN’s McShay also offered a glowing appraisal, claiming that he was one of the day-three “steals.”
Round 5, Pick 184 – Ben Mason, FB/TE
Baltimore rounded out their draft by selecting Ben Mason in round five. Another versatile player, Mason can fill a hole at tight end or full back, though he does have similar attributes to fullback Patrick Ricard, so it remains to be seen where exactly he will fit in during the 2021 season.
Mason does have solid blocking skills, and he could potentially try to lock down a position at tight end in the future. Analysts were mixed on this pick as the Ravens could have opted to reinforce other areas where they are weaker.
Overall, Baltimore’s roster is looking well-stacked ahead of the new season with notable strengths in the offensive line that could be ready to catch fire in 2021. With youth on their side – especially at quarterback, where Lamar Jackson is ably supported by Tyler Huntley and Trace McSorley – the Ravens can play the long game.
Baltimore also has a great batch of cornerbacks to call on, though a failure to pick up an offensive tackle could be a blind spot in 2021. The NFL season is scheduled to get underway in early September and the Ravens will be confident of having everything in place by then to take on the AFC North.