The Baltimore Ravens figured out the hardest part of any rebuild back in 2018 when they selected Lamar Jackson in the first round and the quarterback developed into an MVP caliber player. While the club has been able to reach the playoffs in each of Jackson's first three seasons, they haven't been able to do much damage when they get in the tournament. That's the next mission for Baltimore to truly live up to its potential of becoming a powerhouse in the AFC.
Part of that equation, of course, is the NFL Draft where the Ravens will be picking 27th overall in the opening round. There, the club will have plenty of opportunities to add some of the missing pieces that they are still searching for in hopes of getting the Ravens to the next level in 2021. Specifically, they'll be looking to have similar success from what they did a year ago by selecting linebacker Patrick Queen and running back J.K. Dobbins. If Baltimore can replicate that process and find rookies at positions of need who can have an immediate impact on their club, they'll be a very enviable spot.
Below, you'll find a blueprint in what the Ravens will need to be searching for in order to put themselves in the best position as they contend for a championship next season.
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Add a dynamic receiver for Lamar Jackson
This has been a need for Baltimore for quite some time as they have not had a thousand-yard receiver since Mike Wallace in 2016. While the club does have some solid weapons for Jackson -- tight end Mark Andrews, running back J.K. Dobbins, and receiver Marquise Brown -- the Ravens are still lacking that dynamic weapon that can take the passing attack up a notch. They took some swings to try and address the need in free agency but struck out on the likes of Kenny Golladay and JuJu Smith-Schuster. They did bring in Sammy Watkins, but his presence alone likely doesn't get this unit over the hump. Because they couldn't find a No. 1 pass-catcher in free agency, it puts more emphasis on drafting a player with that potential at the draft.
At No. 27 overall, the big three at receiver in LSU's Ja'Marr Chase and the Alabama duo of DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are likely unattainable. That said, they could be in the mix for that second-tier of receivers either with that first-round pick or somewhere on Day 2. That's where Purdue's Rondale Moore, Elijah Moore out of Ole Miss, and Minnesota's Rashod Bateman are all projected to come off the board. While they may not be as polished as Chase, Smith, or Waddle, this is still a pretty deep class at receiver with some intriguing talent that can be had outside of the first round. Personally, Moore would be a fascinating pairing in the Ravens system and would immediately add some playmaking ability to this offense. Whoever the pick is, however, they need to have a Dobbins-like impact in 2021.
Bring in a top-tier pass rusher
Baltimore lost both linebacker Matt Judon and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in free agency this year, meaning that they'll need to get some help on the edge. If they don't go receiver or another position of need in the opening round, the No. 27 pick is an ideal spot to take someone to fill that hole on their roster. In his latest mock draft, CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Ryan Wilson has the Ravens plucking edge rusher Carlos Basham Jr. off the board. The Wake Forest product has the makings of being one of the next great Ravens pass-rushers and would fill a tremendous need. Not only did the club lose Judon and Ngakoue, but veteran Calais Campbell is only signed through 2021 so it'd behoove Baltimore to get out in front of this need while they still can.
Similar to receiver, the dream scenario is that they find someone like Patrick Queen who they drafted a year ago or Terrell Suggs (2003), who were both immediate impact players once they arrived in town.
Add depth along the offensive line
The Ravens may be out of the range of some of the bigger-name prospects at the offensive tackle spot. Oregon's Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern and Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw have no shot of reaching the Ravens at No. 27, and the club would likely even need to trade up to targets USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker or Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins. Still, this should be something the club considers given the need. Right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. has been thrown around in trade rumors and the status of left tackle Ronnie Stanley for 2021 is a bit murky after he went down with a season-ending ankle injury in 2020. With those situations in mind, adding a tackle at some point in the draft could be a strong route to take for Baltimore. However, that's not their only need along the O-line as they also need to add a center. If they come out of the draft with high upside tackle depth and someone who can start at center to solidify the offensive line, the Ravens brass should be happy.
Here's the prospects CBS NFL Draft writer Josh Edwards has the Ravens taking in his mock draft:
Round (Overall pick)
Jayson Oweh (EDGE)
Richie Grant (S)
Nico Collins (WR)
Drake Jackson (C)
Marlon Williams (WR)
Earnest Brown IV (DT)
Kylin Hill (RB)