clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ravens News 4/13: Starter Needs and more

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 04 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The state of all 32 teams before the 2023 NFL Draft - Brad Spielberger


Remaining starter needs: CB, WR

Remaining depth needs: DI, ED

The Ravens made the latest splash of the free agency period by finally putting an end to the Odell Beckham Jr. courtship and signing him to a staggering one-year, $15 million contract. While people in and around the league were shocked by the value here, Beckham is a good football fit as a short-area separator who can win on third downs and in the red zone, and a willing blocker going back to his LSU days.

The Ravens’ biggest need is now arguably at cornerback, with Marcus Peters a free agent and Baltimore coming very close to signing Darius Slay before the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a reworked deal. With just five draft picks after acquiring linebacker Roquan Smith at the deadline, and none between No. 22 and No. 86, the Ravens may have only one shot at adding a 2023 contributor. Depth along the defensive line could also go a long way, though growth from recent selections in David Ojabo and Travis Jones could, as well.

Most importantly, it appears quarterback Lamar Jackson is a big fan of the Beckham addition, hopefully so much so that it helps keep him around for the foreseeable future.

Ravens film study: A new role for WR Odell Beckham Jr.? It might be what the offense needs. - Jonas Shaffer

In those early years with the Giants, Beckham’s explosiveness was irrepressible. He led the NFL with nine catches of at least 60 yards from 2014 to 2016. He averaged 5.6 yards after the catch per reception, according to TruMedia, ninth highest among wide receivers in that span. He racked up 4,122 receiving yards over his first three seasons; only Randy Moss and Justin Jefferson have started their career with more.

Entering the draft, the Ravens’ best slot receiver is tight end Mark Andrews. Their second-best slot receiver might be another tight end, Isaiah Likely. Rashod Bateman has positional flexibility, but his size and deep speed work best on the outside. Devin Duvernay, also primarily an outside receiver, averaged a disappointing 0.7 yards per route run as a slot receiver last year, according to TruMedia. New signing Nelson Agholor had just 122 yards out of the slot in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus.

If Monken’s offense needs a wide receiver to emerge inside, if only for a part-time role, Beckham might be the best candidate. Beckham lined up out wide on 79.2% of his pass snaps with the Rams in 2021, according to PFF, but he was more efficient in the slot: seven catches on eight targets for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season and playoffs, with a solid 1.85 yards per route run.

Ravens Eye View: What Odell Beckham Jr. Brings to Baltimore - Ryan Mink

Beckham’s red-zone ability to elevate and make tough grabs with his strong hands should improve Baltimore’s red-zone efficiency, which was a sore spot last season. Beckham scored seven touchdowns in 12 games with the Rams, including the playoffs.

Mostly, what Beckham excelled with in Los Angeles is crafty route-running, great footwork, and strong hands. He did a lot of the dirty work making tough catches in traffic and moving the chains, then often finished off drives in the end zone.

Of course, Beckham has a reputation for making eye-popping one-handed catches. But he showcases a toughness that doesn’t always get as much appreciation, but will be greatly valued in Baltimore.

Ravens have had success with 1st-round cornerbacks. It’s time to go that route again - Jeff Zrebiec

The Baltimore Ravens have taken a cornerback in the first round of the NFL Draft four times in franchise history, and they’ve yet to regret it.

“We think it’s one of the most important positions on your football team, and it’s a position that we’ll always look at very closely,” said general manager Eric DeCosta.

DeCosta said he could see five or six cornerbacks taken in the first round, and that opinion is largely supported by some of the more prominent draft pundits. Jeremiah’s recent mock had two corners, Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, going in the first eight picks, and two others, Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. and Maryland’s Deonte Banks, coming off the board in the top 25.

In addition to those four players, Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes and Alabama safety Brian Branch, who some evaluators project more as a nickel corner on the next level, are considered potential first-round picks. But the strength of the cornerback class lies in its depth. Dane Brugler, The Athletic’sdraft analyst, has 15 cornerbacks on his list of the top 100 players in this class.

2023 NFL Draft Better-Than Team - Pete Prisco

Jakorian Bennett, CB, Maryland

He isn’t getting the fanfare that teammate Deonte Banks is at the corner position, but Bennett has a lot of skills that teams love. He can line up and run with receivers, showing off his 4.3 speed. At nearly 6-feet tall and 188 pounds, he’s a lean corner, but the speed shows up. Bennett can also do a nice job in zone coverage, but he will make his money with his ability to play man. He isn’t quite as talented as Banks, but for a third or fourth-round pick, he would make a lot of sense for a team in need of a cover player. His best football is ahead of him.

Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma

It’s all about the speed and big play for Mims. He was timed at 4.38 in the 40, but more impressive is that he averaged more than 20 yards per catch the past two seasons on his 86 receptions. Mims can be a slot receiver at the next level, but he has the speed to move outside and create some problems in man coverage for defenses if a team wants to use him that way. He is smallish at 5-foot-11 1/2 and 183 pounds, but that’s similar to Santonio Holmes when the Steelers drafted him out of Ohio State. Despite his size, Mims had no problems going over the middle and holding onto the football when taking hits. He does need to be more nimble in the middle of the field to help get open against NFL corners. You can’t just rely on speed, but a good receiver coach will do him wonders. Speed kills, and he has it.