Five Things We Learned from the Ravens’ 2021 Draft - Childs Walker
Perhaps we need to update the old saw that the Ravens draft productivity over athletic traits.
DeCosta took one of those big swings he likes to talk about with the Oweh pick. He could have taken Jenkins, safety Trevon Moehrig or one of several edge defenders with better track records as college pass rushers. Instead, he took a 6-foot-5, 251-pound athletic marvel who’s only played football for five years.
There’s a lot to like about the pairing of Oweh and Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale. Even if Oweh is not a natural pass rusher, Martindale will put his 4.39 speed and natural aggression to good use.
“I can’t wait for this city to see how special he’s going to be,” Martindale said Friday. “It’s a thing where, some people talk about sacks, because that’s fantasy football, and that’s what everyone wants to talk about. But this guy brings so much more to the table than that.”
Stephens was one of the biggest cornerbacks in the draft and tested well above average in almost every athletic trait. He plays the ornery press coverage the Ravens love and could slide to safety if that’s where they need him. DeCosta praised his “upside potential.”
That phrase really sums up the Ravens’ top two defensive picks. They’re no longer the reliable conservatives in this process.
The Ringer’s 2021 NFL Draft Team Grades - Danny Kelly
The Ravens had a characteristically solid draft on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they brought in one of the most intriguing prospects in this entire class: Oweh posted underwhelming production in college, but he brings elite athletic traits to develop in the pros. I trust the Ravens to coach him up and cultivate his potential.
Offensively, Baltimore did exactly what it needed to do, surrounding Lamar Jackson with some much-needed pass-catching talent. Bateman is a long, athletic, and skilled wideout who could emerge as a true no. 1-type receiver; if he does, that would allow Marquise Brown to shift to a more logical no. 2 role. Grabbing Wallace in the fourth round looks like a great value too, as he adds a big-play, contested-catch specialist to Jackson’s receiving corps. Factor in Cleveland, who looks like the Mountain from Game of Thrones, and I like what Baltimore has done.
2021 NFL Draft Day 3 winners and losers: Browns GM keeps sizzling, Raiders’ 2019 picks already replaced - Jared Dubin
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens routinely crushed the draft under Ozzie Newsome, and they continue to do so under Eric DeCosta. They got off to a strong start on Thursday and Friday, and continued adding quality prospects on Saturday. Wideout Tylan Wallace makes a ton of sense as a complement to Hollywood Brown and Rashod Bateman. Cornerback Shaun Wade was thought of as a potential first-round pick coming into this season, but a move to outside corner cratered his stock. The Ravens have plenty of perimeter corners, so they can stick him back in the slot, where he was one of the best defensive backs in the country. Edge rusher Daelin Hayes, meanwhile, is basically a prototype Ravens edge rusher who can develop along with Odafe Oweh, as the Ravens have developed so many edge rushers before.
The TCU safety may not even be 180 pounds, but he continually plays bigger than his listed size. Over the past two seasons, Washington has earned a 91.3 coverage grade, allowing only 15 total catches on his 35 targets in coverage.
DB Brandon Stephens
2021 projected role: Whether at corner or safety, a rookie who began his collegiate career as a running back at UCLA seems like a long shot to see defensive action in this secondary, making special teams his path to a game-day role.
Long-term outlook: Most draft pundits weren’t nearly as high on Stephens as the Ravens, so it will be fascinating to see how his development unfolds and what kind of role the organization envisions for the 6-foot, 213-pound defensive back. The early indication is that Stephens will work at safety, which is noteworthy with starter DeShon Elliott entering the final year of his rookie contract and this roster not getting any cheaper.
CB Shaun Wade
2021 projected role: Earning playing time in such a crowded cornerback group will be difficult, but nickel corner Tavon Young’s inability to stay on the field is no secret, giving Wade an outside chance to see some defensive snaps as a rookie.
Long-term outlook: One of the better values of the draft with extensive experience in an elite program, Wade was on his way to becoming an early draft pick before shifting to the outside for the Buckeyes in a strange 2020 season and struggling considerably. At 6-foot-1 and 196 pounds, Wade has good size to defend the slot and could be the nickel corner of the future, especially if Young can’t bounce back from the second serious knee injury of his NFL career.
How has the outlook for the season changed?
It hasn’t. The Ravens entered the draft with a pretty talented and reasonably deep roster. They still have work to do and general manager Eric DeCosta is fond of reminding everybody the season doesn’t start until September. However, the Ravens definitely improved in this draft. They added two legitimate outside playmakers. They likely found their starting left guard. They found a talented edge rusher. They improved the depth of their secondary, which has sustained a lot of injuries in recent years. And they added several versatile, tough players who fit their personality. The big question — and it’s a significant one, mind you — is the offensive line. The Ravens have a young mix of interior guys behind Bozeman and Kevin Zeitler an uncertainty at the tackle spots with Ronnie Stanley coming off a major injury and Brown gone. Still, this is a playoff-caliber roster, and if the passing game takes a step forward, the Ravens should be one of the better teams in the AFC.