In the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Ravens selected Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman with the No. 27 pick and Penn State EDGE Odafe Jayson Oweh with the No. 31 pick. Here’s what I thought before the draft:

Round 1, Pick 27
Might Be: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Could Be: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
I Wish It Would Be: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Please Don’t Be: Odafe Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
The Pick: Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington

Round 1, Pick 31
Might Be: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Could Be: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
I Wish It Would Be: Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
Please Don’t Be: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
The Pick: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame

2021 NFL Draft: Top 10 Offensive Players By Position

2021 NFL Draft: Top 10 Defensive Players By Position

What KZ thinks:

OMG, I am insulted! For a team that runs the ball as much as the Ravens do, how do you even consider a receiver over a tackle or center in the first round? I will tell you why — because Bateman is WR1 in the 2021 draft and brings exactly what the wide receiver corps needs. Every year I fall in love with a receiver and every year the Ravens select someone other than that receiver. A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, Michael Pittman — the list goes on and on. FINALLY, they took MY GUY Rashod Bateman. Excellent feet, runs every route perfectly, tough to tackle. Grade: A

As you can see above, I was not a pre-draft fan of Oweh. To me, he is a developmental EDGE prospect who does not possess many ways outside of sheer athleticism of getting to the quarterback. Maybe he does develop the way Tyus Bowser did, but for a team whose mission is to win the Super Bowl this season, I preferred a more polished, NFL-ready product who would hit the ground running ready to make an impact. I am not sure Oweh fits that bill. Grade: C

Here’s what others are saying …

Rob Rang, Fox Sports:

Ravens GM Eric DeCosta called it “insulting” that his club might be targeting a receiver in the first round, but perhaps he was using this deception as an acknowledgement of how slippery Bateman is as a route-runner. Agile and possessing sticky hands to pluck the ball outside of his frame, Bateman is the kind of polished, professional receiver that too often get mischaracterized as as a “possession” receiver. The Ravens already have speed on the outside. Now, Lamar Jackson has the kind of consistent wideout needed to take the next step. It should be fun to track how former Big Ten opponents Bateman and Cleveland’s new top pick, Newsome, continue their rivalry in the AFC North. Grade: B+

It is perhaps a little ironic that with the main pick acquired in the trade of Orlando Brown Jr. to Kansas City, GM Eric DeCosta took the kind of twitchy edge rusher who could give the aforementioned blocker fits off the edge. If Oweh is able to generate sacks in the NFL, it will be something new for him as he did not collect a single sack a year ago for the Nittany Lions, despite boasting the most exciting combination of speed (4.37) and size (6-5, 257) in this draft. While he had no sacks, Oweh was disruptive, and the Ravens develop rushers as well as anyone in the league. Grade: B

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports:

Bateman Grade: C
I know they needed help at receiver, but there are better options down the line.

Oweh Grade: B-
He is raw and has a ton of talent, but he didn’t produce. He does fill a need.

Luke Easterling, Draft Wire:

Bateman: This is a pick I’ve been mocking for months, and it just made too much sense. Lamar Jackson has been desperate for a big, athletic target who can win with size and physicality, especially in the red zone. Bateman is the perfect kind of pass-catcher to pair with Marquise Brown, and help balance this offensive attack. Great value, and it fits a huge need. GRADE: A

Oweh: The position makes plenty of sense, after the Ravens lost both of their top edge rushers this offseason. The pick is a swing for the fences on Oweh’s athleticism, considering he didn’t log a single sack last season. He’s got a massive frame and long arms, with rare athletic ability for the position, but he’s a huge projection at this point for a team that needed a more pro-ready pass rusher. There were more polished, productive options available. GRADE: C

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic:

Oweh: There aren’t a lot of humans who are Oweh’s size and move like him. If the Ravens are able to unlock his potential, this pick could end up looking like a steal. Fast evaluation: This is a bit of a high-risk pick for the Ravens, just because of Oweh’s lack of experience and college production. Typically, the Ravens put a high value on production when evaluating college edge rushers. Oweh doesn’t really have that, but his measurables and athletic gifts are apparently too enticing to pass up. I may have gone with a safer option here, but the Ravens have mostly done well developing outside linebackers and they deserve the benefit of the doubt here. Grade: B

Bateman: It was no secret going into the draft that the Ravens needed wide receiver help. Bateman (6 feet, 190 pounds) offers a terrific option to work the middle of the field and produce yards after the catch. He finished his college career with 147 receptions for 2,395 yards and 19 touchdowns while averaging 16.3 YPR. Bateman is a polished route-runner who is technically sound and can beat press coverage. There’s no projection here. He should help the Ravens immediately. I love the pairing of player and team here. Grade: A

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the University of Minnesota

Ken Zalis

See all posts by Ken Zalis. Follow Ken Zalis on Twitter at @fansfantasy