The Baltimore Ravens remain in playoff contention, but there’s a growing sense that their window is closing. The Cleveland Browns are trending up in the AFC North, and the Steelers are still a formidable threat. To stay ahead of the curve, the Ravens need to use all of their picks — not just their first-rounders — to their advantage. With that in mind, what are the Baltimore Ravens’ draft grades for their picks in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Ravens draft picks in 2021
- 27th Overall Selection (R1-P27): Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
- 31st Overall Selection (R1-P31, from Kansas City): Odafe Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
- 94th Overall Selection (R3-P30, from Kansas City): Ben Cleveland, OG, Georgia
- 104th Overall Selection (R3-P40, special compensatory pick): Brandon Stephens, DB, SMU
- 131st Overall Selection (R4-P26): Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
- 160th Overall Selection (R5-P16, from Arizona): Shaun Wade, DB, Ohio State
- 171st Overall Selection (R5-P27): Daelin Hayes, EDGE, Notre Dame
- 184th Overall Selection (R5-P40, compensatory pick): Ben Mason, FB, Michigan
Who did the Ravens draft on Day 1?
Baltimore Ravens grades for 2021 NFL Draft
With nine picks overall, including two in Round 1, what grades do the Ravens get for their selected players?
Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Ravens managed to add a second first-round pick after a pre-draft trade sent Orlando Brown to the Kansas City Chiefs. For the Ravens, who have several high-urgency needs, that extra pick allowed them to double-up on the first night of the draft and improved their roster two-fold. The Ravens’ first selection — made at 27th overall — was Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman.
Bateman was one of the most common players mocked to the Ravens at 27 — to the point where it made almost too much sense. Bateman is a great athlete with good size and toughness. However, even more than that, he’s a technician as a route runner and an ultra-consistent threat. Bateman is the best pick for the Ravens, who need reliability and proven conversion at wide receiver in terms of initial utility.
The Ravens’ draft grades for the 2021 NFL Draft start out on a strong note with Bateman. But did the Ravens carry on their strong Day 1 showing with their second first-round pick?
Odafe Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
The tail end of Round 1 is where teams often bend the value of the board just a bit to get players that might have higher ceilings worth banking on. At 31 overall, the Ravens were able to benefit from this luxury. With the 31st overall pick, acquired via trade from the Chiefs, the Ravens picked Penn State edge rusher Odafe Oweh.
In my opinion, this is a little too high for Oweh. He needs a lot of refinement as a pass rusher, and he might not be an impact player right away. Nevertheless, Oweh has some of the most enticing traits in the NFL Draft. At 6-foot-5, 257 pounds, he ran a 4.37 40-yard dash, with a 39-inch vertical and a 134-inch broad jump.
After losing Matt Judon in free agency, the pressure might be on Oweh to produce right away. I’m not sure he’ll be able to do that. However, Oweh still has the traits worth investing in early. If he can develop to his full potential, he can be a great player. But the uncertainty is very high at this stage.
Ben Cleveland, OG, Georgia
Every offense is predicated on successful play from the offensive line, but for the Ravens, who use versatile running schemes, the performance in the trenches is even more important. The Ravens needed some help at guard, and they got it here with Ben Cleveland.
Cleveland is a mountain of a man, and he carries predictable power and grip strength as a blocker. He’s also an underrated athlete, and the Ravens’ coaches can easily mold him into a starter.
Brandon Stephens, DB, SMU
This is fairly high for Brandon Stephens. Nevertheless, the former Mustang has some intriguing traits. He has 22 pass deflections over the past two seasons, and he has a nice 6-foot-0, 206-pound frame. Additionally, Stephens has positional versatility, which makes him appealing at a higher price. The Ravens reached, but this is the kind of player they can get the most out of.
Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
Wide receiver was one of the Ravens’ biggest needs for the entire offseason. The signing of Sammy Watkins in free agency didn’t change that. Baltimore has always had trouble acquiring and developing receiver talent, but the additions of Bateman and Tylan Wallace will help with that immensely. Wallace was worth a Day 2 pick with his dynamic ability and high floor, and for the Ravens, he’s excellent value at No. 131, provided he can stay healthy.
Shaun Wade, DB, Ohio State
It was a tumultuous two-year-long pre-draft cycle for Shaun Wade, who entered the 2020 season as one of the top cornerback prospects, only to see his stock plummet over the course of the 2020 season. In the right role — a hybrid slot-safety role — Wade has the length and explosiveness to be a solid player. And with Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey manning the boundaries, Wade will be able to play in his niche. This is a very nice value pick for the Ravens.
Daelin Hayes, EDGE, Notre Dame
Given the nature of Oweh’s profile, it was smart for the Ravens to double up at the EDGE position later in the draft. Oweh has a ton of potential, but he needs seasoning. Thus, having more depth to insulate his progression is a safe allocation of resources. Daelin Hayes has some measured upside as well — he showed it off at the Senior Bowl — and he’s also a high-character individual who will be a great locker room presence.
Ben Mason, FB, Michigan
The Ravens are one of those teams that has a true need for a fullback, and Ben Mason is easily the best fullback in this draft. He’s big, athletic, nasty, and super reliable as a blocker. His value depended on the right fit, and the Ravens are that fit for him. He has the skill set to be an important piece of their offense on a situational basis.
Team needs for Baltimore coming into the NFL Draft
With two picks in the first round, the Ravens can address some of their bigger needs early in the draft process.
The Ravens lost their best edge-rushing threat in free agency when Matt Judon went to the New England Patriots. They still have Tyus Bowser, and they re-signed veteran Pernell McPhee. However, neither player inspires confidence as a full-time starter. Baltimore needs a catalyst at one of the most important positions.
Investing in upside hasn’t been a problem for the Ravens, who’ve drafted Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, and Devin Duvernay in recent years. However, converting on that upside hasn’t been as easy. None of the aforementioned receivers have been overly consistent, and even after adding Sammy Watkins, the Ravens can use more firepower.
It’s simple, really. Now that Orlando Brown has officially been traded to the Chiefs, the Ravens have a huge need at the right tackle position. In a deep tackle class, they should have plenty of opportunities to fill the gap here.
DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark are decent, and Jimmy Smith has some versatility. Nevertheless, at least one of the Ravens’ draft picks in 2021 should go toward the safety position. The better value might be found in the middle rounds, but they could use more upside at that position — especially in the free safety mold.
This is more of a secondary need. Mark Andrews is a free agent after this season, and Nick Boyle is returning from a season-ending injury. At the very least, the Ravens should keep an eye out for solid blocking tight ends with physical upside.
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