All of the Baltimore Ravens best teams throughout the history of the franchise have been built because of their commitment to the NFL Draft. While certain teams choose to spend big on the open market in free agency, Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta typically sit back and watch the NFL landscape unfold before adjusting and attacking through the draft. The Ravens had six players named first or second-team All-Pro in 2019. Five of those six were homegrown talents.
The NFL is set up to reward teams who succeed in the draft and both Ravens general managers have acted on this. Since succeeding Newsome, DeCosta has stuck to a similar philosophy; acquire as many picks as possible so you may manipulate the draft board to your pleasing. During the 2020 draft, the Ravens moved up and down the draft board multiple times and ended up amassing a total of 10 draft picks — including seven within the top-150. Each of those 10 players saw the field in one way or another for the Ravens in 2020. Eight of those players played in at least 10 games.
First-round picks like Marquise Brown and Patrick Queen have become instant impact players in their rookie seasons but perhaps just as importantly, later-round selections like Bradley Bozeman and Chuck Clark have far outperformed their draft-status. Hitting on multiple selections year-in and year-out is what separates good from great-drafting teams.
2021 should be another crucial draft for DeCosta and the Ravens. Head Coach John Harbaugh‘s team is coming off of their first playoff victory since 2014 and a big crop of impact-rookies could be a big factor in taking the Ravens on a run to the Super Bowl. With the 2021 NFL Draft now less than a month away, this is a Ravens seven-round mock draft.
Baltimore Ravens Seven Round Mock Draft: Post-Free Agency
This mock draft was created using the Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine and their predictive draft rankings
1st Round (27th-overall): Jaelan Phillips (Miami) – EDGE
After not taking an EDGE at any point in last year’s draft, the Baltimore Ravens attack the position in this mock. The Ravens re-signed each Pernell McPhee and Tyus Bowser in free agency but they lost each of Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, and Jihad Ward. The trio combined for a total of 12 sacks (31 percent of the Ravens sack production) and 56 quarterback pressures. Judon led the team in sacks with 6.0 while Ngakoue and Ward each tied for third with 3.0. The Ravens only have three EDGE defenders returning from last season and likely have to add one, if not two, bodies to the pass-rushing group before the start of next season.
Phillips may not completely fix the Ravens EDGE group but he would be a great addition if the organization is willing to look past his previous retirement from football in 2018. After a promising freshman year from the 2017 number-one national recruit, Phillips sustained a concussion in his second season at UCLA that led him to step away from football for over a year. He returned to the field at Miami in 2020 and had a monster year — demonstrating all the 5-star qualities he displayed as a recruit. His mix of violent hands and raw athleticism make him a huge problem for offensive tackles. Phillips is the type of athlete that Don Martindale could play in either the pure pass rush or strong-side linebacker role with the upside to be the Ravens next franchise-pass rusher.
2nd Round (58th-overall): Jevon Holland (Oregon) – Safety/Cornerback
Since the Newsome/DeCosta era started for the Baltimore Ravens, the two general managers have always shown a strong ‘best player available’ approach to the draft. The Baltimore secondary has been one of the deepest position groups in the NFL over the past two seasons and management likely wants to keep it strong for years to come. Since the beginning of the 2019 season, the Ravens have allowed the seventh-fewest passing yards, second-fewest passing touchdowns, and the third-lowest completion percentage and passer rating against. It’s easy to argue that the defensive back group has no weakness but there have been many seasons in Baltimore that proved, you can never be too deep on the back end.
Holland sat out the 2020 college football season but was one of the nation’s top defensive backs in both 2018 and 2019. He has showcased the ability to play all over the secondary with a mix of playmaking, coverability, and athleticism while recording a pass defense or interception in 15 of his 27 games at Oregon. There is room for Holland to improve as a run defender, but his instinctive play mixed in with his versatility makes him a good fit in a Ravens defense that asks for a lot out of their safeties. Baltimore could use both a player that can be a real center-fielding free safety and a potential backup slot corner to the oft-injured Tavon Young. Holland could fill both these roles and play at a high level as a rookie.
3rd Round (104th-overall): Dyami Brown (North Carolina) – Wide Receiver
Finding more weapons for Lamar Jackson seemed like a high-priority for DeCosta coming into the off-season. The Ravens finished 2020 with the fewest passing yards in the NFL and have not had a 1000-yard receiver since Mike Wallace in 2016. New addition Sammy Watkins will provide Jackson with a veteran presence to perhaps ease him into a more pass-happy role but the Baltimore Ravens could still add more wide receivers through the draft. DeCosta and Harbaugh have drafted multiple receivers in each of the past three drafts and are clearly looking for difference makers at the position.
Brown is a similar receiver to Miles Boykin but comes in with a different profile and resume. Boykin was a big and ultra-athletic receiver with very limited production during four years at Notre Dame. Brown, on the other hand, is a little smaller and not as athletic as Boykin. However, he is coming off back-to-back 1000+ yard receiving seasons and recorded just over 20 yards per reception during that time frame. Brown’s ability to win 50/50 balls is an element that has been missing from the Ravens offense for a long time. Finding players that can win with physicality has been tough for Baltimore and Brown can stretch the field while fitting that mold.
4th Round (131st-overall): Walker Little (Stanford) – Offensive Tackle
The Orlando Brown Jr. saga has continued to deep into the off-season and while the Ravens right tackle remains on the roster as of now, he will likely be traded prior to the start of the 2021 season. Baltimore’s historic rushing attack has been largely reliant on strong offensive line play and losing one of the best overall tackles in the entire NFL could be tough to deal with. If Brown is moved prior to the draft for additional high-round picks, the Ravens would likely use those same picks to find a successor. DeCosta has drafted multiple offensive linemen in each of the past five drafts and will likely add another offensive lineman at some point in 2021.
Little’s college career was short-lived. After playing 21 games in his first two years at Stanford, a knee injury in Little’s first game of 2019 forced him to miss the remainder of the season. He then opted out of the 2020 season. At 6’7″ 320 lbs, it is really hard to find offensive linemen that are built like Little. The agility he displays at his size is freakish and gives him a tremendous amount of upside. He is still very raw and likely needs a fair amount of time before he’s ready to be a reliable NFL tackle but the pure athleticism that he has displayed is really hard to find in an offensive of his size. Little is the definition of a high-risk/high-reward prospect.
5th Round (171st-overall): Patrick Johnson (Tulane) – EDGE
If there is one position the Baltimore Ravens would double-dip at during the draft this year, it is at EDGE. Baltimore has had a long history of finding outside linebackers in the mid-rounds that have contributed in big ways. Matt Judon just signed a four-year(s)/$52 million deal with the New England Patriots is just the most recent example. After being selected in the fifth-round out of Grand Valley State, Judon recorded 34.5 sacks, 54 tackles for loss, and 103 quarterback hits during his five years in Baltimore. The philosophy in Baltimore has always been production in college equates to production in the NFL and Johnson has been a difference-maker at Tulane.
During his four seasons at Tulane, Johnson totaled 21.0 sacks and 35 tackles for loss in 41 games. He is not the biggest outside linebacker at 6’3″ 255 lbs but he makes up for his slightly smaller frame with his explosiveness. Johnson has great straight-line speed off of the edge that allows him to blow by certain offensive tackles while occasionally dropping back into coverage. His football IQ is very high and continually makes him a staple in his opponents’ backfield. Martindale’s scheme loves utilizing versatile EDGE players and Johnson has the functional athleticism to be worked into a Judon-like role.
5th Round (184-overall): Tre’ McKitty (Georgia) – Tight End
The Ravens noticeably missed Hayden Hurst in 2020. After being such an important part of the Ravens offense in 2019, the former-third string tight end was shipped off to the Atlanta Falcons seeking an expanded role. DeCosta has already added multiple bodies to try and refill Hurst’s spot but adding more competition through the draft could be good for every potential try-out. Even with Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle, depth is important at every position no matter how strong your starters are.
McKitty was not the most featured tight end coming into the draft. He caught just 56 balls over his four-year college career — making stops at both Florida State and Georgia. However, McKitty has a number of traits that teams look for in NFL tight ends. His natural athleticism has helped him excel as both a pass-catcher with the ability to create yards after the catch and his big-man mindset makes him an adequate blocker in the trenches. McKitty is a gamble but shows some of the most pro-potential amongst the later-round tight ends.
6th Round (210th-overall): Tay Gowan (UCF) – Cornerback
The Baltimore Ravens wrap up this mock draft by addressing their secondary. While the Ravens secondary is still really good, there is a reality in which both Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young are no longer in Baltimore in 2022. Gowan is a massive cornerback. At 6’2″ 185 lbs, very few defensive backs can play the way he does. His incredible length and speed allow him to make a ton of contested plays on jump balls. The biggest question mark for Gowan is not his athletic ability but rather his experience. He only played 13 games of FBS football and saw just 50 targets in 12 games in 2019. Gowan’s size a physicality could make him a good developmental prospect on Day 3.
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