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Baltimore Ravens UDFA Impressing at Rookie Minicamp Early

Baltimore Ravens UDFA Impressing at Rookie Minicamp Early: Keaton Mitchell has caught the eye at rookie minicamp, will he make the roster?
Keaton Mitchell Minicamp

Keaton Mitchell, the Baltimore Ravens undrafted running back signing, has been impressing at rookie minicamp. Mitchell posted a video of him running a go-route at camp, beating two defensive backs to score a touchdown.

From the early footage, it is clear that Mitchell is outplaying a lot of his fellow rookies at minicamp already. The UDFA was slated as a mid-round talent but, due to concerns over his lack of size, fell out of the draft entirely.

In the video, it is also possible to see Zay Flowers in action. Flowers, Baltimore’s first-round selection, can be seen leaving his defender in the dust on a slant route.

While the video is undoubtedly impressive, Mitchell must be careful about sharing practice videos. Coach John Harbaugh has a precedent of taking issue with the leaking of training videos. This was a matter that got Earl Thomas in trouble a few years ago.

Following a solid 2023 NFL Draft haul, the Ravens signed 18 UDFAs. Many have slated Mitchell as the headliner of the UDFA class. Many fans and pundits alike believe that the former East Carolina running back has the strongest chance of making the roster when all is said and done. The other UDFAs to watch are Dontay Demus Jr., Jeremy Lucien and Levi Bell.

Mitchell’s popularity among the fanbase has been palpable. His talent and ties make him, arguably, Baltimore’s most intriguing UDFA. His father, Anthony Mitchell, formerly wont the Super Bowl with the Ravens. This personal connection has been important for the rookie running back, who is keen to further his father’s legacy in Baltimore.

Could Keaton Mitchell Make Roster Following Minicamp?

Whether or not Mitchell will make the roster is still up in the air. He does, however have a strong chance. This is down to his talent as well as Baltimore’s offensive scheme and current personnel.

Last year, Isaiah Likely was the one who impressed coaches during camp and off-season. It led to him being dubbed the team’s ‘third receiver’ entering the 2022 season. While nothing came of it immediately, he ended up being a core contributor when Mark Andrews went down. Given how his rookie year went, Likely is primed for a breakout season in 2023.

Keaton Mitchell’s Talent Flashing at Minicamp

As soon as Mitchell was signed by Baltimore, commentators were buzzing. He was in high demand before the draft even ended. Aside from the Ravens, the teams known to have interest in the UDFA were the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets. Mitchell ultimately opted to sign for the Ravens.

The fact that Mitchell was fielding pitches so early is testament to his talent. LWOS’ Dakota Joslin provides a good summary in his draft profile for Mitchell:

As a result of his position and smaller size, Keaton Mitchell will get knocked down the draft board. Despite not projecting to be a three-down starting running back at the NFL level, with his explosive speed and ability to catch out of the backfield, Mitchell can find himself a nice role in the NFL. In fact, with the ball in his hands, he has a chance to score from all over the field.

Mitchell’s talent was not unevidenced either. At East Carolina, his numbers shined even brighter than his tape. In 33 games, Mitchell managed 3,607 yards and 18 touchdowns. In the words of Joslin, that is “high-quality productivity” to say the least.

While Mitchell’s draft stock was certainly hindered by his size, there was still a lot to love about him as a prospect. Indeed, Joslin listed Mitchell as a fifth-round pick, offering his pro comp as Tarik Cohen. Thus, Baltimore grabbing him as an UDFA was a huge steal.

Given Mitchell’s talent, it is also no surprise that he is already turning heads at minicamp. Against other UDFAs, Mitchell is seemingly a class above. He has the pure athleticism to separate himself from some of the other rookies.

Ravens New Offensive Scheme and Running Back Depth Chart: How Keaton Mitchell Fits

Whether Mitchell will make the roster is not purely down to his talent. It is also necessary to consider the current running back depth chart and Ravens offensive scheme. Both of those, however, point to Mitchell securing himself a spot.

As it stands, Baltimore have J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill as their top three running backs. There is certainly room for a fourth, giving Mitchell a somewhat easy walk-in. To ensure this, he will need to beat out Owen Wright, another UDFA, this preseason.

There is a strong case to be made that Mitchell could be (at least part of) a long-term solution for Baltimore at running back. If he proves to be NFL ready, he could be a perfect fit for Todd Monken’s offense. Through his time at Georgia, Monken leaned on the use of receiving backs such as James Cook and Kenny McIntosh. He balanced this against stronger, power backs such as Zamir White.

Previously, Baltimore’s offense under Greg Roman hardly used running backs as receivers. Indeed, Dobbins was drafted as a pure runner. He has never been an adept receiver as that has never been tasked to him. As Dobbins enters a contract year, it is highly likely that the Ravens will choose to move on with running backs that suit Monken’s style a bit more. Mitchell, a natural receiver who makes plays in space, fits Monken’s scheme to a tee.

As a rookie, it is unlikely that Monken will ask too much of Mitchell. This is especially true as Hill has proved to be an effective change-of-pace back. Mitchell will be called upon in preseason, but very little beyond that. However, do not count out Mitchell to have an Isaiah Pacheco-esque season either.

Main Photo: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports


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