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Ravens News 4/21: Young Contributors and more

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Michigan v Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Why Hitting on Draft Picks Is More Important Than Ever - John Eisenberg

“Draft picks will be more important than ever,” DeCosta said.

Why? The Ravens and Lamar Jackson are negotiating a new deal, which is going to be big, really big. Whenever he signs – and in my view, it’s not a question of if, only when – he’ll start gobbling up a lot more of the salary cap.

“We understand that if we do sign a long-term deal with Lamar Jackson, that’s going to change the way we’ve operated the last couple of years,” DeCosta said Monday.

There’ll be less room for veteran free agents, who cost more, and that increases the importance of having young contributors, i.e., draft picks who can take on important roles at lower prices.

Remember, when several of their more recent defensive line picks didn’t pan out, they had to trade for Calais Campbell and sign Derek Wolfe, who combined for a $13 million cap hit in 2020, according to Spotrac. They had the cap room partly because Jackson is still on his rookie deal, but the clock is ticking toward the time when they might not be so flexible.

“We’ll have to be probably a little bit more careful about which players we sign and which players we don’t sign,” DeCosta said. “We may lose some good, young players.”

Twelve Ravens thoughts on pre-draft video call - Luke Jones

Endorsing young options on the roster is perfectly understandable, but DeCosta suggesting he’s “insulted” by perceptions that Baltimore doesn’t have any wide receivers downplays a long history of that being a rare organizational blind spot, especially with the draft. I wouldn’t blame fans for being a little insulted by that.

John Harbaugh was diplomatic responding to Saturday’s statement from Ravens players revealing they wouldn’t attend voluntary in-person workouts, saying “guys make their choices” and revealing there were indeed “non-rehab” players in the building on Monday. Coaches always want players present, but this will be much ado about nothing.

Harbaugh confirmed only that Bradley Bozeman moving to center remains an option, but this is an instance where the draft may truly dictate that decision, especially if someone like Alabama’s Landon Dickerson or Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey falls into their lap. There’s favorable recent history with both schools.

Terrace Marshall Jr. vs. Rashod Bateman. Ravens, Draft Experts Weigh In - Ryan Mink

Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU

“He’s a guy that played outside last year and showed his explosiveness as an outside receiver. He took on a greater role this year in the slot, so he’s shown that versatility. He’s shown the ability to win at all three levels, and he has great size and speed. So, he’s a player that, obviously, throughout his career has shown the ability to produce from different platforms of an offense.” – Hortiz

Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

“Rashod Bateman, to me, is one of the most complete receivers in the draft. You talk about a guy that can play in the slot, can play out wide. He is a terrific route-runner. He has some special catch-and-run ability that leads you to believe that he’s a guy that you just want to get him the ball in space and let him work.” – Brooks

“If you’re going to take a wide receiver, to me, I don’t really see the value of sticking and picking,” Jeremiah said. “I think you trade back, get some extra value, and you’ll have plenty of good options in the second round.”

Fantasy Football: Ranking the top rookie vertical threats in the 2021 NFL Draft - Andrew Erickson

4. NORTH CAROLINA WR DYAMI BROWN

While the receivers listed ahead of him have more well-rounded skill sets, Dyami Brown belongs in the conversation with this year’s best field-stretching WRs.

Brown’s effectiveness getting off the line of scrimmage helped him become one of the deadliest vertical threats in all of college football. No player had more total yards (1,116) or catches (26) on targets of 20-plus yards over the past two seasons.

He has averaged 20.1 yards per reception over the same time period (No. 2 overall, trailing only Chase). That’s an absurd figure considering the junior out of North Carolina doesn’t boast elite speed.

Brown only posted a 4.46 40-yard dash, but he has proven to be a precise route-runner who tracks the ball well. He ranked above the 80th percentile in both the broad and vertical jumps, demonstrating the athleticism that helps him get off the line of scrimmage.

UAB WR AUSTIN WATKINS

UAB’s Austin Watkins was an air yards monster in 2019, finishing third in total air yards (2,062) and first in team air yards share (45%). The cousin of Sammy Watkins, Austin’s 19.1 aDOT since 2019 leads all wide receivers in the 2021 class.

He also ranks fifth in catches (22) and receiving yards (787) and third in contested catches on 20-plus yard targets. Watkins makes up for a lack of straight-line speed with precise route-running and a big catch radius.

Seven-Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Four QBs go in top 7, joined by Ja’Marr Chase, Kyle Pitts and Jaylen Waddle - Ryan Wilson

Round 1 - Pick 27

Kadarius Toney WR

FLORIDA • SR • 6’0” / 193 LBS

We love this pick. Ideally, the Ravens would land a taller wideout to complement Hollywood Brown, but Toney plays much, much bigger than this 5-foot-11 frame. He’s a playmaker from anywhere on the field and would give Baltimore a legit weapon at the position.

58. Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana

104. James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati (comp pick)

131. Chauncey Golston, EDGE, Iowa

171. Jordan Smith, EDGE, UAB

184. Jaylen Twyman, DL, Pittsburgh (comp pick)

210. Javian Hawkins, RB, Louisville