As the 2021 NFL Draft quickly approaches, signs continue to point toward a potential trade back from general manager Eric DeCosta with Baltimore currently set to select at No. 27 overall. Now, for Ravens fans, it would be like waking your kids up on Christmas only to have them open gifts the following day, but it’s a too often realized fortune of events for Baltimore, who has prioritized adding assets later in the draft if their preferred prospect isn’t on the board at the time of selection.
"We feel really good about our chances, we just wish we had more picks," DeCosta said in March. "We have seven picks right now, and hopefully we have the chance to accumulate a few more."
After all, the Ravens still have glaring needs on both sides of the ball, even with Sammy Watkins’ presence in the receivers’ room—Watkins is expected to become Lamar Jackson’s top target. Along with the need for additional talent at wideout, the loss of Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue on the edge presents a massive need. Even with the addition of Kevin Zeitler along the offensive line, there are still some question marks given that Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr. has requested a trade.
For an organization on the heels of three consecutive 10-plus win seasons, Baltimore enters the draft as a team in desperate need of not only starter’s production, but added depth to a roster in need of such within an ever-competitive AFC North.
So, let’s get right into it. Using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine, I filled the shoes of DeCosta in search of starting-caliber talent who could ultimately provide the boost Baltimore needs as they attempt to play their way back to their first conference title game in almost a decade.
Here is my seven-round mock including scheme fit on each prospect:
Round 1 (No. 27 overall): Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
Following Oweh’s Pro Day in Happy Valley, he’s enjoyed the most substantial draft board rise of any prospect in the class. His measurables are off the charts. At 6-foot-5, Oweh wowed scouts with a unique mix of speed and physicality, firmly securing his spot as a first-round prospect after recording a 4.36s 40-yard dash, 134-inch broad jump, and a 34.5-inch vertical in front of a slew of NFL scouts huddled inside Penn State’s facility in March.
For a prospect like Oweh, who’s shown flashes on tape but has obvious flaws as a true edge prospect, the narrative surrounding athletes like him could never be more true at this stage in the evaluation process. Explosive guys go high, faster guys go higher.
Oweh would immediately provide the jolt outside the Ravens need in their odd-front defensive scheme as an outside linebacker. Although he does need a high level of volume to truly develop into the defender he can be, I don’t see Baltimore going elsewhere if Oweh is still on the board here.
Round 2 (No. 58 overall): Richie Grant, S, UCF
Grant is everything Baltimore has lacked as a do-it-all talent at the apex of their defense. Chuck Clark has done a nice job as a sixth-round flyer in 2017, but with a secondary touting headline talent in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, a safety that complements the two corners would be a home run addition for Don Martindale’s ultra-physical defense.
Following a productive four years at Central Florida, Grant capped his collegiate career with an outstanding week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, where many—including myself—have him ranked higher than fellow safeties Trevon Moehrig (TCU) and Jevon Holland (Oregon). He has the talent to become a Pro Bowler as a rookie, and Baltimore could serve as his optimal landing spot.
Round 3 (No. 104 overall): Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida
This is purely need over value here with the current scenario surrounding Brown. Forsythe is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-8 with excellent pass-setting skills, highlighted by surprising mobility traits considering his frame. Similar to Brown, Forsythe could opt to clean his body up over the duration of camp, further building his stamina and overall functional strength. The more reps he gets, the better he’ll be, and this is a hard spot to pass up one of the top second-tier tackles in the class.
Round 4 (No. 131 overall): Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
The duo of Watkins and Marquise Brown offers two burners on the outside, but it’s the intermediate portions of Baltimore’s offense where Jackson thrives. Williams offers both sure-hands and a talent who’ll garner a large number of targets in the red zone with Mark Andrews working in-line. The current mold of wideouts that Baltimore loves simply isn’t getting the job done. Speed is speed, but physicality is the name of the game on the boundary. Williams offers everything Baltimore so desperately needs to assist in the ongoing progression of Jackson as a passer.
Round 5 (No. 171 overall): Chauncey Golston, EDGE, Iowa
With Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams both slated to enter free agency next spring, Golston provides a high-motor talent that in essence could start from day one over Derek Wolfe. With excellent length, Golston bullied opposing Big Ten tight ends and tackles. Along with his elite speed-power combo, Golston has shown years of experience setting the edge in the run, a must of 3-4 ends at the pro level. He’s underweight for the position, but he fits everything Baltimore touts along their defensive front.
Round 5 (No. 184 overall): Drake Jackson, IOL, Kentucky
Each of the three centers on Baltimore’s roster is set to enter free agency next spring, which of course includes starter Patrick Mekari. Jackson, arguably, is more talented than all three and I can envision him out-playing Mekari in camp. The former Wildcat has served as the anchor of Kentucky’s offensive line for four seasons and the end result is a well-rounded interior prospect who’s able to handle one-on-one reps against larger nose tackles. He also has the ability to climb levels with efficiency against interior defenders that would fit nicely in Baltimore’s heavy rushing attack.
Round 6 (No. 210 overall): Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa
Why the former Hawkeye is still on the board here is a mystery, but he falls into DeCosta’s lap as clear BPA (best player available) late in the sixth round. A talented and clean route-runner, Smith-Marsette could initially make his name as a special teams ace in his first season due to a crowded receivers’ room, but his talent is hard to ignore. One of the smoothest athletes at receiver in the class, his track speed is evident, but he’s more than just a vertical presence. The former Hawkeye was used throughout Iowa’s offense on screens and jet-sweeps, all while serving as the clear WR1 target for quarterback Spencer Patras. He did it all for Iowa, and I see his skill set transitioning nicely into Baltimore’s unique offense.
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