Sports columnist Mike Preston and Ravens beat writer Jonas Shaffer discuss Ravens free agency and possible picks in the 2021 draft.
The NFL draft is one week away, and two prospects at the Ravens’ most pressing areas of need — wide receiver and edge rusher — are among the favorites to be selected by the team, according to several experts.
However, the Ravens could use upgrades at other positions such as safety or interior offensive line, and the organization is steadfast in its “best player available” approach, which makes pinpointing a draft selection a difficult task.
Here’s a look at which prospects experts and analysts predict the Ravens will select in the first round.
Note: All picks are No. 27 overall, unless noted otherwise.
LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr.
The Ringer’s Danny Kelly: “Marshall is another prospect who could see his stock rise after impressing scouts at LSU’s pro day. The former Tigers star ran the 40 in 4.38 seconds, showing off the type of speed that should make him a big-play threat at the next level. That’s something the Ravens need more of in their passing game.”
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.: “As I wrote in my Mock Draft 3.0, quarterback Lamar Jackson needs an outside wide receiver who can run every route. That’s Marshall, and it’s rare that a team is able to find a guy like him this late in Round 1. That just shows how exceptional and deep this wideout class is going to be. Marshall fits even with Sammy Watkins joining Baltimore on a one-year deal. With Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue both gone in free agency, I also thought about Penn State edge defender Jayson Oweh, who has big-time upside.”
Establish the Run’s Evan Silva: “Baltimore whiffed on Kenny Golladay, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and T.Y. Hilton in free agency, ultimately settling for Sammy Watkins on a one-year, $5 million deal. At 6-foot-4 with 4.38 speed, Marshall logged 23 receiving TDs over the past two seasons. LSU has become something of a hit factory for wideouts, notably producing Odell Beckham, Justin Jefferson, D.J. Chark, Jarvis Landry, and Russell Gage lately.”
Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs: “An edge rusher would make a lot of sense here, and the Ravens have been considering veteran options. But they need to add playmakers to help quarterback Lamar Jackson.”
Georgia edge rusher Azeez Ojulari
Pro Football Network’s Oliver Hodgkinson: “Azeez Ojulari may not be considered a true scheme fit — he was an outside linebacker for Georgia — but he possesses the ability to line up from anywhere in the defensive front seven and be an immediate impact. Athletic and strong, Ojulari’s draft stock has skyrocketed this season due to a productive campaign for an impressive Georgia defense.”
Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo: “Like many of the other edge defenders in the class, Ojulari has a small sample size of college data, but he emerged last season with the best pass-rush grade in the draft class at 91.7. Ojulari has an old-school 3-4 outside linebacker feel, and that’s a good fit for the Ravens, who want versatility for their blitz-heavy scheme. With good burst, length, and the willingness to get dirty in the run game, Ojulari will join Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee to form a solid trio of edges in the Baltimore defensive front.”
USA Today’s Nate Davis: “They need to restore edge rush after saying goodbye to Matt Judon in free agency. Ojulari, who averaged nearly a sack per game in 2020, looks like the best 3-4 linebacker this year.”
Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips
Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer: “Phillips has passed his former teammate Rousseau on some boards but regardless, the Ravens, after getting gutted in free agency, need to go after someone who could be their next Terrell Suggs.”
Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer: “With Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue elsewhere, the Ravens need to replace some of that pass rush. Phillips could go earlier.”
Penn State edge rusher Jayson Oweh
Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell: “The Ravens lost both Yannick Ngakoue and Matthew Judon this offseason, so I imagine they’ll be considering a pass rusher in the first couple of rounds. Jayson Oweh has potential, but didn’t do all that much in 2020. He needs to become stronger for the pros.”
NFL.com’s Charles Davis: “The Ravens lost some firepower off the edge in free Agency (Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue), but this exceptional athlete can use his speed and explosiveness to make big plays in Baltimore’s defense.”
Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman
Yahoo Sports’ Luke Easterling: “Another perfect match for an AFC North offense, Bateman is exactly the kind of wide receiver Lamar Jackson desperately needs to balance out an offense that has relied too heavily on the run in recent years. Bateman’s combination of size and athleticism would give Jackson and the Ravens’ passing game a complete pass-catcher who can move the chains, turn short catches into big plays, and dominate in the red zone.”
Alabama center Landon Dickerson
Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson: “This isn’t a tremendously exciting pick, but the Baltimore franchise understands the power of solidity on the offensive line, particularly after last season in which the group took a step backward, causing the offense to take a step back. Dickerson tore his ACL in the SEC Championship game, but that isn’t the fearsome injury it once was for players, and he should be ready to roll as a rookie. His PFF grade until that injury this season was an excellent 91.3, and he could go a long way toward propelling Baltimore’s offensive line and offense as a whole back to where it was.”
Texas Christian safety Trevon Moehrig
CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso: “The blitz-happy Ravens need quality defensive backs to cover and get after the quarterback on occasion, Moehrig can be a star in Wink Martindale’s system.”
Miami edge rusher Gregory Rousseau
NBC Sports’ John Daigle: “An edge rusher is Baltimore’s first, second, and third priority after losing 12 combined sacks between Yannick Ngakoue, Matt Judon, and Jihad Ward. Rousseau seized 16 sacks as a redshirt freshman in 2019 before opting out of the 2020 season.”
Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney
CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson: “We love this pick. Ideally, the Ravens would land a taller wideout to complement Hollywood Brown, but Toney plays much, much bigger than this 5-foot-11 frame. He’s a playmaker from anywhere on the field and would give Baltimore a legit weapon at the position.”
Central Florida safety Richie Grant
The Athletic’s Chris Burke: “Day 2 should be a good spot for safeties, but can any of them sneak into the first round? This is a good spot for it — the Ravens have a need there, and Grant is a ballhawk who racked up 259 combined tackles over the past three seasons. Baltimore long has been a franchise that appreciated having a playmaker on the back end.”
Washington edge rusher Joe Tryon
NFL.com’s Charley Casserly: “Tryon has a high motor with a lot of quickness, and I expect he would’ve gone higher had he not opted out last season.”
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