The days following the draft are filled with tremendous hope and hype where fans and pundits like to predict and project big rookie seasons for every one. However, that is often not the case because making the jump from college to the pros can be steep and sometimes arduous one for first year players to make right away.
With that in mind, here’s the fourth in a series of articles that detail realistic year one expectations for each member of the Baltimore Ravens 2021 draft class:
WR Tylan Wallace
Round 4 No. 131
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy was not only the best player available when the Ravens were on the clock for the first time on Day 3, but some pundits also view him as one of the steals of the entire draft considering he was projected to go as high as the mid-second round and no further than the late third.
The likelihood of Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta drafting another wide receiver after taking Rashod Bateman with the first of his two picks in round one didn’t seem that high considering their needs at other positions like offensive tackle and defensive line.
However, the value that he presented in the middle of the fourth round was too great of an opportunity to pass for a team that is looking to improve upon their dead-last ranking in passing offense in 2020.
“Just too good of a player for us not to take him,” said DeCosta. “He’s a very talented receiver who we saw at the Senior Bowl.”
All that being said, given the fact the Ravens are a run-first and heavy on offense, consistent targets will hard to come by and he’ll be competing with his fellow wideouts for snaps. Given the Ravens’ low-volume passing attack and the sudden depth they have the position with Bateman, Sammy Watkins, and Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown likely starting ahead of him, Wallace shouldn’t be expected to have a large role on the offense as a rookie contrary to the immediate hype that swirled among the fan base after he was selected.
However, that doesn’t mean he won’t be able to utilize his dynamic skillset to make plays as a pass catcher or contribute in other ways. As a receiver, Wallace is similar to Bateman in the sense that he too plays much bigger than his average size suggests.
Yeah, Tylan Wallace is going to be a beast in Baltimore pic.twitter.com/AVoDXnIfZ2— Kevin Oestreicher (@koestreicher34) May 1, 2021
He can present Lamar Jackson with a physical target outside the numbers who can be reliable, make plays after the catch and isn’t afraid to go over the middles and make tough grabs in traffic. He runs crisp routes, separates well at the top of his route stem, and makes contested catches.
“It’s still crazy to me, it’s still surreal to me that I’m going to be actually catching passes from him,” said Wallace about teaming up with Jackson. “He’s an inspiration to all the guys, especially young guys like me. So, being able to go up there and being able to just hang out with him, build that chemistry with him, I can’t wait for it.”
Wallace also makes great last-second adjustments to locate and reel in the ball whenever it’s in his vicinity and exhibits excellent body control and spatial awareness on the boundary as well as in the red zone.
Welcome to Baltimore, Tylan Wallace— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) May 1, 2021
He brings other attributes to the table which he believes set him apart from the other receivers who came out this year.
“I think a big thing for me is my ball skills,” said Wallace. “Whether it’s locating the football, high pointing it, running through it – and also, my physicality. I think that’s one thing that separates me in this Draft class, for sure.”
His physicality should serve him well in his run blocking where he was willing and proficient in college but will be doing a lot more of in with the Ravens if he wants to get and stay on the field.
Much like Bateman, he was a fan- and Baltimore Beatdown favorite during the pre-draft process and the fact that the Ravens were able to land both without having to trade up would’ve been nearly unfathomable a few weeks ago.
As far as what to expect from Wallace in year one, he’ll be fighting players like Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche for the role as the fourth receiver on the depth chart. It’s a pivotal spot in the pecking order because if an injury were to occur to one of the top three guys, it’d mean an increased role and more of the target share.
The most likely to miss some time of the receivers ahead of him is Watkins given his history and habit of missing a handful of games pretty much every year. Nevertheless, he will be given the chance in OTAs, minicamp, training camp, and every week during the season to earn more snaps, he just has to seize each opportunity. Standing out on special teams could lead to more meaningful snaps on offense as well if performs well on return units.