The Baltimore Ravens should trade move up and select Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday.
The Baltimore Ravens now have two first-round picks after sending Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs, which should be enough ammunition to move up and go get Jaylen Waddle in the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday.
The Baltimore Ravens need to bring in a receiver this weekend. There are other needs on both sides of the trenches and perhaps at safety, but Lamar Jackson needs another legitimate weapon to help him return to his 2019 MVP form when he led the league in touchdown passes. And while the class is deep, the lack of opportunities given to Devin Duvernay and James Proche in 2020 showed that mid- and late-round receivers are not getting early playing time in this Baltimore offense. If the Ravens are finding a piece to help Jackson in 2021, he’s being selected in the first round.
There should be at least one or two of Terrace Marshall Jr., Rashod Bateman, Elijah Moore, and Kadarius Toney on the board when the Ravens are scheduled to make their first pick at 27th overall. But Eric DeCosta has been trying to add a star receiver all the way back to before the 2020 draft when Baltimore was in the mix for DeAndre Hopkins. It’s time for DeCosta to take a big swing to finally get his man, and that man is Jaylen Waddle.
Waddle is the perfect chess piece for an offense that absolutely needs to incorporate more screens and sweeps in the coming year, and his ability to turn quick crossing routes into huge gains should make life much easier for Jackson, who attacks the middle of the field as much as any quarterback in the league. What is perhaps most impressive about Waddle is the way his combination of speed, twitch, and a diverse route tree allow him to sell different routes and create separation.
In a Ravens passing game not known for mind-blowing route concepts, receivers need to rely on pure talent and athleticism to make things go, and Waddle has the tools to still be a big-play machine in a less-than-ideal set-up. His over-the-top ability will help take defenders out of the box, and his legs will devastate tired defenses late in games after they’ve tried to stop the multi-faceted Baltimore rushing attack for two or three quarters.
According to DraftTek’s 2021 NFL Draft Pick Trade Value Chart, the Ravens could send the 27th and 31st overall picks to the New York Giants in exchange for picks 11, 196, 201, meaning they would be able to take Waddle and still have nine additional picks at their disposal to address other needs (or use to make more moves around the draft board). While bigger names like Creed Humphrey, Landon Dickerson, Azeez Ojulari, and Teven Jenkins may no longer be on the board when the Ravens come back on the clock for the second time at pick 94, the 2021 draft class is deep at safety, edge, tight end, and across the offensive line. Options like Quincy Roche, Deonte Brown, D’Ante Smith, Hunter Long, and Andre Cisco should all still be very much in play towards the end of round three, where Baltimore has two picks to add another pair of contributors. And with options like Justin Houston and Alejandro Villanueva reportedly being eyed as post-draft signings, it may not necessarily be crucial to find starters at edge or right tackle anyhow.
In such a pivotal year, the Ravens can’t afford to get cute in the passing game. After the Orlando Brown Jr. trade, they have the draft capital to make a move into the early teens without selling the farm, and shouldn’t hesitate to go up and get Lamar Jackson a dynamic talent like Waddle. If he or any of the other big four receiving targets (Waddle, Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith) are sitting there, the front office should pull the trigger and put them in the purple and black.