On the heels of an 11-4 finish last season, the Baltimore Ravens have established themselves near the top of the AFC pecking order. Riding high after last year’s performances of quarterback Lamar Jackson and running back J.K. Dobbins, they utilized the 2021 NFL Draft to help address the few weak spots they have.
Having picked up an extra first-round selection this year after shipping disgruntled offensive tackle Orlando Brown out to the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore decided to address wide receiver and linebacker. Selecting Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman and Penn State’s Jayson Oweh kept the Ravens inside the Big Ten for their first two selections, even though it pushed the need to upgrade their OL needs back.
Taking a WR early plays into the mindset of needing to address a passing offense that only accumulated 2,919 yards and 27 TDs, with Jackson putting up 2,757 yards and 26 scores to only 9 interceptions. Keep in mind, this was with Jackson having targets like tight end Mark Andrews and WRs Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown, Willie Snead IV, and Miles Boykin holding down the top four receiving yardage roles on this team.
Having used eight selections in this year’s NFL Draft, the Ravens may have picked up the crown jewel of the undrafted free agent crop – see which member of the defense may be in line for early snaps.
Safety – Texas Christian University
Having held pre-draft grades projecting him to go as high as the third or fourth rounds, TCU safety Ar’Darius Washington took a massive tumble down team’s draft boards, falling out of the draft completely. Lucky for the Ravens, they do have a need in their defensive secondary, even after having selected two corners this year.
Washington’s fall may have been caused by his lackluster pro day showing and his stature, as he stands 5-foot-8 and may be outworked over the top by more physical wideouts and tight ends. But his ball skills were on display during his time with the Horned Frogs, something that should very much excite the Ravens.
Washington earned various accolades during the draft process, being ranked in the top 60 prospects and even earning a comparison to Kansas City’s Tyrann Mathieu. His positional versatility is what helped make him a top UDFA option, ranked as the best or second-best by two major outlets covering the draft.
For the Ravens, their safety outlook includes Chuck Clark and DeShone Elliott, with the latter lined up to earn a solid payday in free agency after this upcoming season. Adding cheap, young talent to an already talented defense will only help better Baltimore, something that should help keep the rest of the AFC on their toes.
Their offense may be the area that needs the most work, but this year’s draft class helped address the key areas (WR and OL) that were lacking in talent. Baltimore understands the importance of surrounding Jackson with talent, and having a stud RB in the making in Dobbins next to him simply shifts the onus onto the WR core.
Washington may have slipped much farther down the ranks than expected, but with the kind of reputation, BAL has when it comes to developing safeties, Washington could very well end up being just another top-notch option that roams the defensive secondary and wrecks havoc on opposing QBs.
Needing to continue to fight for every victory in a tightly-contested AFC North division, Washington can be that perfect under-the-radar option to help solidify an underrated need for the Ravens for this season.