Previous rank: No. 5
Lamar Jackson needs more help. Will he get it? The Ravens had a chance to swipe JuJu Smith-Schuster away from the Steelers, but they didn’t produce a contract offer good enough to keep Smith-Schuster from returning to Pittsburgh on a one-year, $8 million deal. On Monday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Baltimore was meeting with Sammy Watkins, who’s had an enigmatic NFL career but still profiles as an upgrade over Marquise Brown in the receiver pecking order. It’s fair to wonder how excited free agent receivers might be about joining a Ravens team that threw the ball a league-low 406 times in 2020.
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Baltimore Ravens: Zeitler was a nice, if unexpected, pickup. But the defense took a significant hit up front, and no first-rate receiver was forthcoming to assist in QB Lamar Jackson’s development as a passer.
2021 Free Agency spending rank: 17th
Position of need: WR
Perfect Fit: WR Rashod Bateman
Comped to Los Angeles Chargers receiver Keenan Allen in PFF’s NFL Draft Guide, Bateman is one of the most complete receivers in this deep draft class. He has an NFL-ready build at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds that can hang with the physicality of NFL corners. Bateman hauled in 63.2% of his contested targets as a sophomore, seventh among Power 5 wide receivers.
His specialty is his ability to create separation thanks to a plethora of release packages at the line of scrimmage. Bateman was tied for second with five touchdown receptions coming with a step or more of separation in his last full season.
The Ravens rank 31st league-wide in yards after the catch from receivers since 2019, but that also happens to be one of Bateman’s strengths. The Minnesota wide receiver has forced 36 missed tackles and recorded 905 yards after the catch in his career, eighth and 16th among Power 5 receivers, respectively.
The rumored knock on Bateman’s game is his lack of top-tier speed, but that did not stop him from creating big plays down the field. Since 2019, no other receiver has more catches on 10-plus-yard throws than Bateman (46). If that sustained success down the field did not shut down those claims, then his reported 4.39 40-yard-dash time might do the trick.
Bateman’s ability to offer a complete package at the receiver position is what should be most alluring to Baltimore. His ability to play outside and in the slot should add a much-needed facet to a Ravens passing game that has been somewhat one-dimensional since Jackson took over under center. Since 2019, Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews have more targets (345) combined than the next seven most-targeted Ravens pass-catchers combined (336).
Bateman is mostly mocking in the Pick 22-23 range, so there’s always a chance that he falls to the Ravens at 27, as he does in Mike Renner’s most recent NFL mock draft. But if the Ravens want Jackson to take a Josh Allen-like leap, they might need to do what it takes and go and get their guy.
Unfortunately, they are in a weird position picking 27th. There is certainly a shot that Rashod Bateman falls to them, which would solve their needs in a hurry, but most of the receivers projected after the “big three” plus Bateman fit more of a slot receiver mold.
If Baltimore could get its hands on Tylan Wallace, it could pay off big. All Wallace did at Oklahoma State was play out wide a whopping 86% of the time, procuring an 89.1 receiving grade there. The Ravens’ first-round draft slot puts them in a sort of no-man’s land, but getting Wallace in the second round would provide Jackson a nice contested-catch type of receiver on the outside.
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27. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The Harbaugh connection continues as Paye would be a Day 1 starter on the edge for Baltimore. He needs some refinement, but his physical tools and his size would be a perfect fit in Baltimore’s 3-4 defense.
58. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
After ignoring wide receiver in Round 1, the Ravens stay patient and grab Marshall. He’s a big-bodied receiver who does his best work from the slot. Marshall is a bit raw but has the tools to be a solid starter in the NFL.
104. BALTIMORE RAVENS (compensatory pick)
Ar’Darius Washington, S, TCU
Baltimore never shies away from smaller defenders and Washington is a ball-hawk. He might be a better slot cornerback in the NFL, but he is a playmaker and has rare instincts.