The Ravens made a big splash in round one of the NFL draft last night, selecting Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown with the 25th pick after trading back three spots. It represents the first time Baltimore has drafted a WR in the first round since 2015 and just the fourth time they’ve done so in franchise history.
“Hollywood” was the first receiver taken off the board and just the second player at the position selected in the first round, the other being N’Keal Harry. Some thought the Ravens would pounce on Cody Ford or Montez Sweat, who both surprisingly slipped into the 20’s.
However, they opted to address what might be their biggest need and got the player they wanted. What is the impact of the addition of Brown in the big-picture? Let’s break it down.
Winner: Lamar Jackson
This one is obvious. For months, we’ve been saying that giving Lamar Jackson weapons on offense was as high of a priority as any. By investing a first-round pick in a wide receiver, something the Ravens rarely do, it’s clear they’re committed to aiding Jackson’s development. Marquise Brown was the most electric playmaker available in the draft and his speed and route-running ability will make life much easier for Jackson. Him and “Hollywood” also appear to have a strong relationship off the field, as both players grew up in Broward County, Florida.
Winner: Greg Roman
The addition of Brown will also pay dividends for Greg Roman, whose taking over offensive coordinator duties for the first time in Baltimore. Dating back to his days as the OC for the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills, Roman’s offenses have rarely had receivers with as much speed as Brown possesses. “Hollywood” is a shiny new toy that Roman can do a lot of things with on offense. Brown can stretch the field, run shallow and intermediate routes, and bubble screens. He’s electric with the ball in his hands and thrives after the catch, skills that Roman can take advantage of.
Loser: Jordan Lasley & Jaleel Scott
The Ravens invested two mid-round picks on Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott in last year’s draft. Lasley was inactive for all 16 games last year and Scott was placed on injured reserve before the season began. John Harbaugh spoke highly of both receivers’ potential and upside just weeks ago, but with the addition of Brown, it’s hard to envision either wideout making an impact next year. The current depth chart would peg Lasley and Scott behind Brown, Willie Snead IV, Chris Moore, and Seth Roberts. Barring injuries to any of these guys, Lasley and Scott find figure to find themselves in a familiar place heading into the season: on the roster bubble.
Winner: Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, & Kenneth Dixon
The Ravens stable of running backs also comes out as winners from the addition of Marquise Brown. Ingram, Edwards, and Dixon are players who thrive when running between-the-tackles. However, this is difficult to do when opposing defenses are simply stacking the box, which teams do when an offense lacks a credible passing attack. With Brown’s speed and playmaking on the outside, defenses will have to remain honest overtop. This will open up running lanes for Ingram and company, giving them more opportunities to find success on the ground.
Loser: Recent history
While Brown has a great chance to be successful in the NFL, the investment return on rwide receivers selected in the first-round of recent drafts is not pretty. D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley had fine rookie seasons last year, but check out all the receivers selected in the first rounds between 2015-18: Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Breshad Perriman, Phillip Dorsett, Corey Coleman, Will Fuller IV, Laquon Treadwell, Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross.
There’s a lot of names of here, most of which can be considered busts to this point with the exceptions of a few names. Of the 12 players listed above, only one, Amari Cooper, has materialized into a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver thus far. This isn’t to say “Hollywood” won’t himself, but the success of first-round wideouts has been spotty at best recently. Also working against him is the Ravens lack of success when drafting receivers. Baltimore has a dismal history of picking wideouts in the draft, most recently missing badly on Perriman in 2015. Here’s hoping Brown can buck the trend.