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Ravens News 4/22: Needing a Splash and more

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Arkansas v Mississippi Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

AFC North rankings: Browns emerge on top, Ravens need to make a splash at 2021 NFL Draft - Bryan DeArdo

4. Baltimore Ravens

The good: Baltimore kept some of its key in-house free agents in linebackers Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee along with defensive tackle Derek Wolfe. Baltimore’s best outside free agent signings include offensive guard Kevin Zeitler, a player the Ravens surely hope can be a better replacement for Marshal Yanda, who retired after the 2019 season. It also includes receiver Sammy Watkins, a much-needed addition to Baltimore’s receiving corps.

What still needs to be done: Baltimore has glaring needs at offensive tackle, linebacker, safety, EDGE and receiver. And while there are still some available free agents at each position, the Ravens will first try to fill these holes via the draft before going back out on the open market. Baltimore should find a draft pick to select a tight end who can be a viable option for Lamar Jackson in the passing game.

While receiver can’t be ruled out, it’s much more likely that Baltimore will use the 28th overall pick on defense. Two of our draft experts have the Ravens using the pick to select former TCU safety Trevon Moehrig. And while they will try to address most of their needs during the draft, look for the Ravens to sign more free agents over the next several weeks. One player who is reportedly on Baltimore’s radar is veteran left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who was selected to two Pro Bowls while protecting Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside.

Ravens need to learn from past mistakes at receiver, not complain - Mike Preston

It’s apparent that the persistent questions about the receivers have struck a nerve. Good, maybe the Ravens will finally go draft a good one.

It’s impressive that they are one of the top franchises in the NFL and consistent winners, but the top priority is always to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season. The Ravens have won more than 10 games each of the past three seasons, but it’s time for them to take the next step on offense.

That means finding Jackson a No. 1 receiver, because his inaccurate arm can’t carry an offense. This situation is reminiscent of an exchange between former Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin and quarterback Joe Flacco one day at practice in 2011.

Flacco, who could be highly inaccurate at times, was missing targets badly. Boldin walked up to him, called him every name but Joe, and told him to just throw the ball somewhere near him and he’ll go get it.

That’s what the Ravens don’t have. Oh, they have the inaccurate quarterback, but not that go-get-it receiver. They need a guy who is going to make that play in crunchtime regardless if he is double teamed, or who will make the leaping catch in the far corner of the end zone.

The Ringer’s Top 85 Players in the 2021 NFL Draft - Danny Kelly

33. ELIJAH MOORE

WIDE RECEIVER OLE MISS

TWITCHY, VERSATILE PASS CATCHER who lacks size but plays big; he runs sharp routes, catches everything, and makes hay at all three levels.

79. JOSH PALMER

WIDE RECEIVER TENNESSEE

PHYSICAL AND COMPETITIVE PASS CATCHER with field-stretching speed, ball-tracking skills, and very strong hands.

2021 NFL Draft edge defender rankings - Michael Renner

2. JAYSON OWEH, PENN STATE

PFF BIG BOARD RANK: 25

Oweh may not have recorded a sack last year, but he was still making a big impact in the pass rush. We actually saw real improvement from 2019, as his overall grade went from 74.6 to 85.4 this past season. He boasted the single freakiest pro day at the edge position I’ve ever seen and only started playing football in 2016.

4. AZEEZ OJULARI, GEORGIA

PFF BIG BOARD RANK: 30

Ojulari is a sub-250-pound rusher but has the length and explosiveness to get by on the edge. He uses his hands about as well as any edge defender in the class, with his patented cross-chop getting him to a 91.7 pass-rushing grade this past season. Even at his size, Ojulari can still play a three-down role.

8. PAYTON TURNER, HOUSTON

PFF BIG BOARD RANK: 58

Before he got hurt, Turner was dominant in four games this past season, putting up a 90.0 pass-rushing grade in the process. He’s also got an ideal build for the edge, with absurd 35 3/8-inch arms.

9. JOSEPH OSSAI, TEXAS

PFF BIG BOARD RANK: 60

Ossai only started playing on the line of scrimmage full-time this past season. He’s a bursty, undersized edge who’s still only scratching the surface after earning an 81.1 run-defense grade and 80.5 pass-rushing grade last season.

2021 NFL Draft bold observations: Eight takeaways from studying this draft class that aren’t so conventional - Chris Trapasso

Landon Dickerson isn’t a fit at center in the NFL

Everybody adores Dickerson as a prospect. I get why. His film is loaded with pancakes, and he was a leader on Alabama’s national title winning team. I don’t believe he can excel at center in the NFL. For a few reasons. First, his size. Dickerson was nearly 6-6 and 338 pounds at the Alabama pro day. That’s just too big for the center position, a spot on the field that routinely deals with small, lightning-fast penetrators who get nearly all their power from physics. Low man creates leverage. Low man wins.

Also Dickerson is mobile relative to his size more so than compared to other centers in this class and veteran centers in the NFL. For as much as I liked his film, athletic stiffness was a clear flaw. Dickerson does have a high floor because of his mammoth frame, unreal experience, and power. I just don’t think he has the profile to succeed in the NFL at the center position.

Gregory Rousseau isn’t a top-100 prospect

Rousseau is the ultimate — and I mean ULTIMATE — developmental edge rusher/defensive lineman in this class. He played and produced for one season at Miami then opted out. The latter is completely fine, but because of his limited collegiate experience, it should surprise no one that he’s incredibly raw.