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Ravens 2021 Draft: NFL Draft Grades Roundup

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NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Northwestern at Ohio State Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is officially over, and the Baltimore Ravens added eight new players, including two wide receivers and two cornerbacks. Here is the full draft class:

So, let’s take a quick look at the final draft grades from the experts:

ESPN: B+

ESPN’s Mel Kiper gave the Ravens a “B+”. Only the Jets, Dolphins, and Chargers received higher grades. Kiper’s only criticism is that the Ravens did not draft an offensive tackle after trading Orlando Brown Jr.

Rashod Bateman (27) is a game-breaking receiver who can play outside or in the slot. He averaged 20.3 yards per catch in 2019. Ravens wide receivers had the fewest receptions (137) and receiving yards (1,729) in 2020, so this was a crucial pick. With the pick the Ravens got by trading away Orlando Brown Jr. to Kansas City, they took outside linebacker Odafe Oweh (31), who was only a full-time starter for one season. He has long arms and ran an incredible 4.39 40-yard dash at his pro day while weighing nearly 260 pounds. The production didn’t match the tape in 2020, but he has potential. Ben Cleveland (94) is an enormous and strong lineman who could play left guard or center in Baltimore. Elsewhere, I like Brandon Stephens (104), a former running back at UCLA who moved to corner at SMU and broke up 10 passes last season. Shaun Wade (160) did not have a good 2020 season, but he was much better in 2019, when he only had to play nickelback. If he gets back on track, he could be a starter. My top-ranked Ben Mason (184) fills a need as an H-back who can bury defenders as a blocker. The only knock here is whether or not they have a replacement for Brown at right tackle on their roster, because if it’s not Tyre Phillips, they might have a problem, and they didn’t address it here. Baltimore got good players on all three days, though.

NBC Sports: B-

Nick Goss of NBC Sports also questioned the front office’s decision to not draft a tackle, but he liked the selection of wide receiver Rashod Bateman.

Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman was a good first-round pick and gives quarterback Lamar Jackson another playmaker in the passing attack. Baltimore might regret not addressing the offensive line with one of their first-rounders after trading left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs earlier in the week. The Ravens drafted Penn State linebacker Odafe Oweh at No. 31 overall in Round 1, and he didn’t tally a single sack last season.

NFL.com: A

Chad Reuter of NFL.com gave the Ravens an “A” grade for each of their three days. He called OLB Daelin Hayes one of the steals of the draft.

Once again, GM Eric DeCosta and the Ravens made the most of their draft capital. 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson had to be happy to see the team pick Bateman in the first round, and the defense also got a Round 1 boost from the addition of Oweh. The Ravens used the third round to find a pair of future starters in Cleveland and Stephens. Wallace doesn’t have the elite speed, size or quickness teams want, but he does make tough catches and beat his man downfield. Wade played hurt throughout a disappointing 2020 season but landed with a great organization in the fifth round. Hayes was one of the steals of the draft because of his all-around edge talent, so the Ravens once again found excellent middle-round value at that position.

Pro Football Focus: B+

The Ravens received a “B+” grade from Pro Football Focus. They called Shaun Wade “a good value” in the fifth round.

If Shaun Wade wouldn’t have returned in 2020 after initially opting out, he would’ve certainly come off the board on Day 2. He was an exceptional slot corner for the Buckeyes in 2019 but struggled mightily on the outside in 2020. The physicality wasn’t there, and his press technique was a mess. Wade proved that he is a safety/slot corner and not the outside corner many thought he would be. In 2019, he made more plays on the ball (eight) than first downs allowed (seven) in the slot en route to a 78.6 PFF grade. He can be a quality defensive back, just not an outside corner. This was good value for Baltimore.

Sports Illustrated: B+

Finally, Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr also gave the Ravens a “B+” grade.

Rashod Bateman is finally healthy and should return to his 2019 form, back when he was more squarely thought of as a lock for the first round. His deceptive play speed and strong hands will provide the Ravens with the true X receiver they’ve been searching for, which has, in the past, forced them to entertain the likes of Dez Bryant and Antonio Brown. Odafe Oweh, whose rawness was pronounced and may have forced him to drop, is in the perfect system to develop. The Ravens utilize athleticism first and foremost, and Oweh has that by the barrel full.