2021 NFL Draft: 3 wide receiver sleepers for the Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens still need help at wide receiver. Who are some sleepers in the 2021 NFL Draft that could come in and help right away?
The Baltimore Ravens have sat back and taken a passive approach to free agency, seeing wide receivers come off the board left and right without bolstering their own group of pass-catchers. If they take the same approach in the 2021 NFL Draft, who are some sleepers that could come in and help right away?
Trevon Grimes (University of Florida):
Grimes was somewhat buried on the Florida depth chart behind the likes of Kyle Pitts and Kadarious Toney, in some ways similar to how Terrance Marshall spent much of his career stuck behind the likes of Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. But the Gator senior could stand to be one of the bigger steals from this year’s draft. He offers an enticing blend of size (6″4, 218 lbs) and speed, meaning his tape features everything from big-play slants to goal-line fades.
While Grimes hauled in just 38 catches in 2020, he averaged 15.5 yards per reception, still managing to put up 589 yards and nine touchdowns playing third-string in a loaded Florida passing game. Toney’s track star speed may have made him better-equipped to consistently punish opposing defenses at the collegiate level, but Grimes’ collective tools could very well lead him to having the better career in the NFL. New Ravens pass game specialist Keith Williams has spoken at length about coaching up players like Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill into leveraging their physical attributes on the field, and the prospect of pairing a physical freak like Grimes with Williams is hard not to get excited about.
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TJ Vasher (Texas Tech):
Vasher lacks the separation ability of Trevon Grimes but makes up for it by measuring an unreal 6″6. He could stand to add a little weight before going up against NFL defenders, but Hollywood Brown would be happy to show him how. If Lamar Jackson‘s problem is lacking bigger targets, Vasher would clean that up in a hurry, measuring taller than any receiver or tight end currently on the Ravens roster. Size alone doesn’t make an NFL receiver, but the two-sport athlete also showed the ability to make adjustments on the football at Texas Tech and serving as far more than just a jump-ball specialist.
Highlight reel specialists can at times struggle to translate into the NFL because a second foot in bounds is required to make a catch. But Vasher has elite footwork, and the overwhelming majority of his big plays would have been “good on Sundays.” As a bigger receiver, he’ll never beat Marquise Brown or Devin Duvernay in a foot race, but his long strides and more slender frame make him quick for someone his size.
Jaelon Darden (North Texas):
Take everything that was just said about Vasher and turn it upside down. North Texas’s Jaelon Darden measures just 5″9 and 175-lbs. but may have the most twitch in the entire draft. Last year, Lynn Bowden Jr. was commonly mocked to the Ravens as the ultimate gadget player who could be electric in a Greg Roman offense, and Darden fits that bill as well as just about any player in this class. As Baltimore looks to incorporate more sweep and screen plays into the offense this season, Darden would give a third pure speed threat to the “track team” Eric DeCosta said he was trying to build last offseason.
Because of his small stature, the Ravens could not get by making Darden the only addition they make to the receiving core this offseason. Lamar Jackson does need another big-bodied target to throw to. But as a rotational receiving option further, Darden could devastate tired defenses in the second half with his quick legs, adding another wrinkle into a Baltimore offense that is trying to be less predictable this coming season.