2020 NFL Mock Draft: Ravens trade up for an Alabama receiver
Fourth Round: 129th overall pick
Is there a more perfect fit in this draft than Lynn Bowden in the Greg Roman offense?
Perhaps this pick is slightly redundant after selecting Laviska Shenault in the second round, but we’re out to create nightmares for opposing defenses here. Players like Chris Moore, De’Anthony Thomas, and Jaleel Scott aren’t going to help Baltimore reach that “next level,” and while Moore is a strong special teams contributor, it would hardly be a loss if Thomas and Scott didn’t make the final 53-man roster next year.
What makes Bowden so exciting beyond his 4.38 speed is that he can run, he can catch, and he can throw. Bowden actually played quarterback for the Kentucky Wildcats in 2019, and it’s easy to Shenault flipping him the ball on a double reverse, only to see Bowden find Lamar Jackson open for a receiving touchdown in a Baltimore rendition of the “Philly Special.”
You don’t draft Bowden for that play alone, of course, and you don’t draft him with the intent to see him throw the ball often either (we certainly have that covered already). But if he does it even once or twice, it adds a wrinkle to the mix that few teams can throw at you, and even causes defenses to respect his competent arm when he trots out as a wildcat quarterback, which can create more running space in short yardage situations. Beyond that, he also has the speed to take the top off a defense as a receiver, and his shifty ability makes him a candidate to an occasional “change of pace” running back as well.
It should be noted that these receiver picks are not an indictment of Miles Boykin. With these picks in tow, Boykin is now free to slide into the “big slot” role that many want the Ravens to pick fellow Notre Dame receiver Chase Claypool to fill next year. With so many speed players like Marquise Brown, Henry Ruggs, and Lynn Bowden in the mix at receiver, Boykin and Mark Andrews are both in a position to be leveraged as matchup nightmares for opposing defenses, making the most of their size and providing some big-bodied targets for Jackson to find in short- and medium-yardage situations. Boykin has talent, but with the Ravens in win-now mode, it’s best to play to his strengths and not risk him failing to become a true number two wide receiver.
This rounds out the offensive “skills position” part of this mock draft, and should leave Ravens fans salivating at the prospect of what Roman could dial-up in 2020 with this haul of talent. Baltimore is now incredibly well-equipped with low-cost playmakers as they approach the prospect of having to hand extensions to Jackson, Ronnie Stanley, Matthew Judon, and/or Marlon Humphrey. Ensuring a deep group of skill-position pieces are in the fold on the cheap can give the Ravens the cap flexibility to make those moves, keep their window going for the long-haul, and compete for Super Bowls even as some of their current stars get expensive.