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What they’re saying about the Ravens’ first-round picks in the 2021 NFL draft

Ravens discuss their two first-round picks in the NFL draft, WR Rashod Bateman and linebacker Odafe Jayson Oweh.

Here’s what experts from publications around the country are saying about the Ravens’ draft after the first round, which saw the team select Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman at No. 27 overall and Penn State outside linebacker Odafe Oweh at No. 31 overall.

“No matter what the Ravens said publicly, it was clear they wanted to find additional receivers for 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson. Bateman has the build and quickness to play in the slot if that’s what the team needs — but he also would test defenses at flanker or split end. The more targets Jackson has, the better the team will be.

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“Baltimore used the first-round selection it received from Kansas City in the Orlando Brown trade on Oweh, an elite athlete who plays with physicality off the edge. People point to his zero sacks in 2020, but he did bring down quarterbacks seven times in 13 games the previous two years. The Ravens won’t ask Oweh to dominate as a rookie, allowing him to mature behind Pernell McPhee, Jaylon Ferguson and Tyus Bowser. The upside is worth the risk this late in the first round.” Grade: A

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

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

Bateman: “A high floor wide receiver prospect, Bateman possesses plucky hands and strong route-running ability. He can separate at all three levels of the field and win the ball in the air. Displaying NFL-ready release packages, Bateman beats press on a consistent basis. Downfield he is savvy, attacking the blind spot of cornerbacks. Despite running well at his pro day, Bateman is not a burner and lacks elite traits to be a dominant wideout.

“Bateman, who ran a 4.3, is a good fit in Baltimore, giving quarterback Lamar Jackson a sure-handed target that can separate on time. While the target volume may never be great in this situation, the Minnesota product will be a reliable stick mover and immediate impact player.” Grade: B+

Oweh: “A pro-day standout, Oweh has freaky athleticism. While he is still raw, one has to take into consideration that he started playing football as a junior in high school. He is a boom or bust pick that depending on his development could end up being a premier pass rusher or buried on a depth chart.

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“The Ravens lost almost their entire pass rush in free agency and Oweh is the type of developmental prospect that they covet at the position. It may not happen in 2021 but he looks to be next in line of feared Ravens pass rushers.” Grade: B.

“The only way the Ravens could have found Lamar Jackson a better weapon is if they were drafting in the top 10. Bateman’s combination of catch radius and route-running ability is exactly what this offense was missing in 2020.”

Bateman: “This is a slam-dunk pick for the Ravens, who give Lamar Jackson another playmaking pass catcher to throw to downfield. Bateman brings an intriguing combination of size and speed, and has experience playing both outside and in the slot. His skill set complements Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins well, and his addition brings potential to help Jackson take a big jump in the passing game in year four.” Grade: A+

Oweh: “Oweh is a fascinating high-risk, high-reward pick for the Ravens. The former Nittany Lions star boasts extraordinarily rare athleticism (he ran a 4.36 at his pro day at 257 pounds), but heads to the NFL with underwhelming college production (he posted zero sacks in seven games last year and notched just seven in his career). Baltimore’s big bet here is that he’ll be able to turn his speed and explosiveness into sacks at the next level.” Grade: B

“When you trade an established stud like Orlando Brown you better be sure you’re getting some great players to build around. They did it. Both Rashod Bateman and Jayson Oweh deserved higher picks based on potential, and they landed both of them.

“This was a major coup for the Ravens at the end of the night, who made big time splashes to help both sides of the ball and give Lamar Jackson an even better chance of being a star in 2021 and beyond.”

Bateman: “Baltimore needed to continue to upgrade its wide receiver corps to support Lamar Jackson, and signing Sammy Watkins to put opposite Marquise Brown wasn’t enough. With some burners to stretch the field, a sturdy, steady route-runner with strong hands to be a reliable possession man was the missing ingredient. Bateman is also a strong red zone option to support tight end Mark Andrews.” Grade: A

Oweh: “Oweh is a freakish athlete. He might be better suited to operate in a base 4-3, but with some developmental work, he can be effective in Baltimore’s 3-4 helping to revamp a depleted pass rush that lost Matthew Judon in free agency. The Ravens went 2-for-2 in addressing key needs and should find a decent answer to help replace Orlando Brown Jr. at right tackle on Day 2.” Grade: A

Bateman: “The Ravens got Lamar Jackson some help at receiver. Bateman will give Baltimore what they’ve lacked for a long time: A legitimate No. 1 receiver who can win at every level of the field. He’s a smooth route-runner who will have no problem getting open for Lamar. I thought Bateman was closer to a top-15 talent, so this is quite the value for a team that desperately needed to add weapons on the outside.” Grade: A

Oweh: “Oweh didn’t have a sack in 2020 and was drafted in the first round. I’d be more concerned if he was going to another team, but Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale will put him in position to take advantage of all that athletic ability. He may not be a natural pass rusher, but he won’t have to be in this defense.” Grade: B-

Bateman: “This was a pick widely speculated, as Bateman is an outside receiver who will battle for balls. One thing we noticed on tape (that will work very well with Lamar Jackson): Bateman is really good at coming back to the ball on scramble drills. This pick will work, even with the need on the offensive line.” Grade: B-

Oweh: “The offensive line can wait. Oweh is a true 1% athlete, even by NFL standards. He’s raw as a pass rusher, finding his way into the backfield with his rare traits and very hot motor. The Ravens typically put a lot of stock into sack production in their projections. Oweh had zero in seven games in 2020 and only seven in 24 college games. Will he harness his skill?” Grade: C+

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