Evaluating The Baltimore Ravens’ 2021 NFL Draft Picks And Undrafted Free Agents

Round 1, Pick 27: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota (KZ grade: A)
Round 1, Pick 31: Odafe Oweh, EDGE, Penn State (KZ grade: C)

KZ evaluated the Bateman and Oweh picks here.

Round 3, Pick 94: Ben Cleveland, IOL, Georgia (KZ grade: A)
Round 3, Pick 104: Brandon Stephens, DB, SMU (KZ grade: C)
Round 4, Pick 131: Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State (KZ grade: A)
Round 5, Pick 160: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State (KZ grade: B+)
Round 5, Pick 171: Daelin Hayes, EDGE, Notre Dame (KZ grade: B)
Round 5, Pick 184: Ben Mason, FB/TE, Michigan (KZ grade: C+)

UDFA class:

Ar’Darius Washington, S, TCU
Adrian Ealy, OL, Oklahoma
Tony Poljan, TE, Virginia
Sam Cooper, OL, Merrimack
Xavier Kelly, DL, Arkansas
Foster Sarell, OL, Stanford
Blake Gallagher, LB, Northwestern
Nate McCrary, RB, Saginaw Valley State
Donte Sylencieux, WR, Graceland

KZ’s thoughts:

I loved the picks of Rashod Bateman, Tylan Wallace, Ben Cleveland and Shaun Wade. Bateman and Wallace give the Ravens two receivers who run solid routes, have strong hands and win contested balls. The receiver room is now deep and can’t be used as an excuse by fans or team brass.

Cleveland, a massive human being who excels in the running game, should start immediately and add a mean streak to the offensive line. Wade would have been a first-round pick if he had come out last year or had opted out this past season. In 2020, he struggled outside but looks like an above-average slot corner who could step in immediately if injuries continue to linger in the Ravens’ secondary.

I am less excited by the Odafe Oweh, Brandon Stephens and Ben Mason picks. I have already talked about Oweh — I personally thought there were some other EDGE prospects who were more ready to step right in and contribute. The upside for Oweh athletically is there.

Brandon Stephens is a head scratcher for me in the third. He is a converted running back who played more corner than free safety at SMU and has only been a defensive back for two years. I think his best place in the NFL is free safety, but he will have to learn how to play that position at the NFL level. This is a great kid who earned No. 23 at SMU. There is upside for sure, but this was a pick that may have been able to be made a round or two later.

Mason is a fullback, H-back or tight end. He played fullback at Michigan and should be an asset in the running game as a bulldozer who craves contact. Again, I like the player, but not where they picked him. Still, I understand the need in case tight end Nick Boyle isn’t ready to go in September. Mason fits what the Ravens like to do on the ground.

I like Daelin Hayes out of Notre Dame. Selfishly, I wanted the team to grab Quincy Roche out of Miami, but Hayes is a solid player who should add needed depth at EDGE. Grabbing Ar’Darius Washington and Adrian Ealy as undrafted free agents is terrific work. Both should make the team or at least the practice squad. Nate McCrary is a big running back with solid speed. Do not sleep on him.

Overall Grade: B

Here’s what some others thought of the Ravens draft …

Mike Tagliere, FantasyPros.com:

As I heard the Ravens picks coming off the board, I wondered if they were using my big board at times. I kid, obviously, but I absolutely loved both first-round picks. Bateman is a perfect complement to Marquise Brown as a shorter, intermediate target who can play in the slot, while Oweh is someone I’m expecting the Ravens to develop into a rock-solid pass-rusher. Then, they selected one of my favorite interior linemen in the entire draft, taking Cleveland in the third round. He improves the offensive line almost immediately. I didn’t like the two cornerback selections they made, as Stephens wasn’t even on my list of prospects, and Wade was someone who should be reserved as slot-only after a miserable 2020 on the perimeter. But then, they went right back to their great draft by selecting Wallace later in the fourth round, a player who many expected to go in the second or third round. The Ravens no longer have an issue at wide receiver. They then closed out their draft by adding another edge rusher, the major position of need. The Ravens also snagged Ar’Darius Washington as a UDFA, which was one of the biggest steals among players who went undrafted (I liked him as a potential third or fourth rounder). Bravo, Ravens. RAVENS DRAFT GRADE: A

Pro Football Focus:

Day 1: Rashod Bateman may not be an elite all-around athlete, but he has an incredibly high floor and should have been the fourth wide receiver off the board. His route-running chops and release package are NFL-ready. Bateman was a productive receiver from the slot in 2019 despite dealing with COVID-19 before the start of the year and losing 10 pounds. And from an outside alignment, he recorded 3.60 yards per route run that year, the fifth-highest mark by a Power Five wide receiver in the PFF College era. Lamar Jackson gets his WR1.

Oweh is a freak athlete. At 6-foot-5 and 257 pounds, he posted a 40-inch vertical, 134-inch broad jump, 4.39 40-yard dash, 4.15-second pro agility and 6.84-second three-cone at Penn State’s pro day. All of those marks rank at or above the 95th percentile among edge defenders historically. However, Oweh’s pass-rush move arsenal is sorely lacking, and his rushes tend to die on contact. He produced just 10 pressures in his last six games in 2020. He’s only scratching the surface of what he can become.

Day 2: Cleveland is a monster of a human being who mauled everyone in his path in college. The problem is that he didn’t pair that size with production. He’ll need to learn the more technical aspects of the game and must become lighter on his feet. Right now, he needs to play in a phone booth because any play in space is going to be rough for him. He brings a mentality that the coaches will love, but this is a big projection. Stephens is far from a great athlete, and he isn’t an incredibly technical player to make up for that. This is a reach for the Ravens. Speed kills him, as it’s not up to the level it should be in the NFL. A move to safety might be in the cards.

Day 3: If Shaun Wade wouldn’t have returned in 2020 after initially opting out, he would’ve certainly come off the board on Day 2. He was an exceptional slot corner for the Buckeyes in 2019 but struggled mightily on the outside in 2020. The physicality wasn’t there, and his press technique was a mess. Wade proved that he is a safety/slot corner and not the outside corner many thought he would be. In 2019, he made more plays on the ball (eight) than first downs allowed (seven) in the slot en route to a 78.6 PFF grade. He can be a quality defensive back, just not an outside corner. This was good value for Baltimore. Draft Grade: B+

Nate Davis, USA Today:

They took some big swings, and first-round WR Rashod Bateman and DE Odafe Oweh both have the potential to be home runs or strikeouts — Oweh a physically gifted player who nevertheless had zero sacks for Penn State in 2020, but a man who essentially winds up being the compensation in the trade of Orlando Brown. The Round 5 roll of the dice on CB Shaun Wade could be a good one. Grade: C+

Walter Football:

B- Grade. Goals Entering the 2021 NFL Draft: Lamar Jackson and the Ravens had an amazing 2019 because of a stellar offensive line. Marshal Yanda retired, and it sounds like Orlando Brown could be traded. Two new offensive linemen will need to be acquired. Baltimore will also have to address their pass rush, which lost Yannick Ngakoue and Matthew Judon this offseason. A receiver is needed as well.

2021 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Ravens have a great front office, but receiver has been a blind spot for them. They messed up with Breshad Perriman, and it appears as though history has repeated itself with Rashod Bateman. I don’t know why the Ravens used a first-round pick on a wideout who may not be able to separate from defensive backs in the NFL, but Bateman should have been relegated to the middle of the second round or later. The pick is reminiscent of the Patriots’ first-round choice used on N’Keal Harry. New England, of course, is another franchise that typically drafts poorly at receiver.

I was way more of a fan of the Ravens’ other first-round choice, [Odafe] Oweh, who will be able to serve as a replacement on the edge. However, the Ravens failed to address their other major need, the offensive line. A third-round selection was used on guard Ben Cleveland, but no other blockers were added in the 2021 NFL Draft, which seems like a major blunder.

That said, I loved some of the values the Ravens obtained on Day 3, including Tylan Wallace and Shaun Wade. Those picks certainly helped the overall grade, but I expected Baltimore’s usually excellent front office to piece together a better class.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Minnesota, Penn State, Georgia and Ohio State Athletics

Ken Zalis

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