The Baltimore Ravens and general manager Eric DeCosta make their living by hitting their targets in the NFL Draft. Since the Ravens were established as a franchise in 1996, their superpower has been a successful approach to selecting and developing in-house talent. Head coach John Harbaugh has done a tremendous job coaching up talent to the point where Baltimore has the highest percentage of homegrown talent in the NFL at 72%. They can keep this trend going by hitting on their picks on Day 2 of the draft in 2021.
The Ravens currently hold two late Day 2 picks but could easily end up with more. Going into the 2020 draft, DeCosta and his team held multiple second and third-round picks. However, even though they already had four picks on the day, multiple trades resulted in Baltimore making a total of five selections; one in the second round and four in the third round. DeCosta currently holds each of the 27th and 31st-overall picks in the first round but could easily move one of them back to accumulate more draft capital for a later day or next year.
Some of the Baltimore Ravens best seasons have been fueled by hitting their targets on Day 2 of the draft. Day 2 picks Marshal Yanda, Paul Kruger, and Kelechi Osemele were essential to the Ravens Super Bowl run in 2012 while Mark Andrews and Orlando Brown Jr. were huge parts of the Ravens record-setting rushing offense in 2019. Last season J.K. Dobbins (55th-overall) set the Ravens rookie record for rushing touchdowns while each of their four third-round selections played 260 or more snaps.
This is a look ahead to who the DeCosta and the Ravens may be targetting on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Five Baltimore Ravens Day 2 NFL Draft Targets
Honorable Mention: Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma) – Center
Creed Humphrey 2021 NFL Draft Profile
Creed Humphrey just missed the top making it onto the Baltimore Ravens draft targets list. Humphrey is debatably the best center in the 2021 draft. He’s a mauler in the run game and uses his wrestling background to work his hands into positions of strength in trenches. His three excellent seasons as Oklahoma’s starting center make him a natural fit for the Ravens. However, Humphrey will be a highly courted player on draft day and likely will not get close to the Ravens unless they trade back into the second round. He as well as Alabama center Landon Dickerson look like locks to be top-50 picks. If Humphrey falls into the Ravens lap where they feel it is appropriate to take a center, DeCosta will likely try and sprint the card in as fast as possible.
5. Pat Freiermuth (Penn State) – Tight End
Pat Freiermuth NFL Daft Profile
A lot has been made of Baltimore’s need for more receiving talent this off-season. They did not land a big-name free agent pass-catcher but did land another serviceable wide receiver in Sammy Watkins. However, at tight end they have made even fewer additions. Lamar Jackson had his best passing season when his primary targets were most frequently utilized over the middle of the field and DeCosta is still yet to replace Hayden Hurst. The Ravens three tight ends accounted for 125 of Baltimore’s 289 receptions in 2019 — 43 percent of their total receptions on the year. In 2020 they accounted for just 73 receptions.
Freiermuth is the kind of player that could turn the Ravens tight end group back into the three-headed monster it was during Jackson’s MVP campaign. His mix of size and athleticism is rare from a tight end and he has shown a willingness to both block in the run game and run through players in the open field. He may not be a very polished route runner but he has incredibly safe hands. Freiermuth has been compared to Rob Gronkowski and while that may be rich, he moves like a tight end that could be a real matchup problem for opposing defenses on all three downs.
Other options at the position: Hunter Long [NFL Draft Profile]
4. Jalen Mayfield (Michigan) – Offensive Tackle
Jalen Mayfield 2021 NFL Draft Profile
With Orlando Brown now a Kansas City Chief, the Ravens will almost certainly be looking for his successor with one of their picks on Day 1 or Day 2. The duo of Brown and Ronnie Stanley was maybe the best tackle pairing in the NFL for the 31 games they started together. However, this year’s draft is perhaps deeper at tackle than any other position group. The Ravens will reportedly sign Alejandro Villanueva when this year’s compensatory pick period finished following the draft and his presence could be enough for the Ravens to feel confident at right tackle for the year. It’s worth noting that James Hurst started the first six games of 2018 before Brown made 46 straight starts at the position.
The Ravens always have a big advantage in selecting players from Michigan with John’s brother Jim Harbaugh being the head coach in Ann Arbour. This perhaps makes Baltimore the best destination for Mayfield. He would likely need some bench time early in his career due to a lack of playing strength (and just 15 career starts in college) but showed great positioning and reactive blocking with some ability to finish at Michigan. His inexperience and upside make Mayfield one of the more perplexing tackles in the draft but if John gets a glowing review from his brother, he could be a solid developmental tackle behind Villanueva.
Other options at the position: Brady Christensen [NFL Draft Profile]
3. Jamar Johnson (Indiana) – Safety
Jamar Johnson NFL Draft Profile
The safety room in Baltimore is not weak. In fact, it’s actually pretty good. Deshon Elliott finally managed to play a full season in the NFL in 2020 and looked exactly like the player that turned heads in multiple preseason games. His partner, Chuck Clark is also still one of the more underrated strong safeties in the league. Where the room has its shortcomings is in versatility. Since the release of Earl Thomas, the Ravens have lacked a real center fielding free safety. Both Elliott and Clark are solid in zone coverage but their strong suits lie in tackling, hitting, blitzing, and run support.
Johnson is one of the best coverage safeties in the upcoming draft. At Indiana, he was asked to play as each single-high, nickel, and box safety but his best reps come in coverage. In Johnson’s final eight games in college, he recorded 3.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions (including two against Ohio State) and four pass defenses. His tackling will need a lot of work at the next level but he consistently took good angles when coming up in the run game. Johnson needs refining at the NFL level but could offer early production on coverage downs and has starting free safety upside.
Other options at the position: Hamsah Nasirildeen [NFL Draft Profile]
2. Joseph Ossai (Texas) – EDGE
Joseph Ossai NFL Draft Profile
Over the past few drafts, Baltimore’s front office has shown a stubbornness towards drafting EDGE defenders. By the patterns they are constructing, they clearly favor coverage over pass rush but that does not mean they can keep neglecting their outside linebacker group with hopes of effectively pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Over the past three drafts, the Ravens have taken just one EDGE, third-rounder Jaylon Ferguson. The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec said “I would be very surprised if Day 2 goes by…without (the Ravens) getting an EDGE rusher” last week on the Locked On NFL Draft podcast.
Ossai is the definition of an ‘effort’ pass rusher. He is not a particularly fluid athlete but he has an endless motor and plays with relentlessness pursuit. His powerful tackling helps him force fumbles while his ability to swim quickly off of outside blocks makes him a constant disruptor in the pocket. If Ossai can improve his run defense, he will be a great fit in Don Martindale’s defense. Even if DeCosta elects to take an EDGE on Day 1, the Ravens are in prime position to double-dip at the position due to pure scarcity on the roster.
Other options at the position: Carlos Basham Jr. [NFL Draft Profile]
1. Nico Collins (Michigan) – Wide Receiver
Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins tops the list of Baltimore Ravens draft targets. Help in the wide receiver room for Jackson has been a must this off-season for the Ravens. Baltimore has not had a 1,000-yard receiver since Mike Wallace in 2016 and new passing game specialist Keith Williams likely needs a few more options than the ones the Ravens have in-house. Marquise Brown led the team in receptions with 58 in 2020 and finished tied for 54th in the NFL. Each other wide receiver that is returning in 2021 had 20 or fewer receptions last season. Baltimore may break their three-year streak of taking multiple wide receivers in 2021 but they will almost certainly take one within the first four rounds.
Potentially picking Mayfield may have a lot to do with Jim’s impression on John Harbaugh but having his insight on Collins is just a bonus. The former Michigan wide receiver opted out of the 2020 college football season after a moderately productive college career — that could debatably be chalked up to poor quarterback play. At 6’4″ 215 lbs, he brings a rare blend of speed (4.45u), foot quickness, and size with the ability to make contested catches and get deep down the field. Miles Boykin is the only x-receiver in the Ravens wide receiver room and DeCosta could opt to diversify his pass catchers on Day 2. Baltimore is in need of a chain-mover and a red zone threat and Collins has the box-out skills and athleticism to be a very valuable playmaker on the boundary, in the middle, and deep down the field.
Other options at the position: Seth Williams [NFL Draft Profile]
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