The Baltimore Ravens have been criticized over the years for the lack of options they have at wide receiver. Baltimore finished dead last in passing in 2019 and 2020. In a passing league, a team will not make it to the Super Bowl if they can’t throw the ball.
General Manager Eric DeCosta has drafted six receivers over the span of three years to improve the lack of a passing attack. He drafted Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace in 2021, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II in 2020, and Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin in 2019.
While it remains to be seen what Bateman and Wallace will do, many of those names don’t jump out to Ravens fans as “elite talent.”
Baltimore has never been one to hit big on receiver talent in the past. The last time the Ravens hit “gold” on a receiver was during the days of Torrey Smith and a trade from the Arizona Cardinals that landed Anquan Boldin. Despite the woes faced over the years, the new addition of Bateman should help the offense a lot.
The threat of Bateman could open lanes for Brown and vice-versa. Both receivers could be a one-two punch to opposing defenses this season. But which of the two will have the biggest impact in 2021?
Despite talks this offseason of the Ravens’ waiting till the later rounds in the draft to take a wide receiver, Bateman fell to DeCosta at No. 27 and was too good to pass up. The former Minnesota Golden Gophers’ playmaker was a go-to wide receiver in college and was a top-five receiver in this year’s draft class.
Bateman showed traits in college that left fans in awe. He got open consistently, got good separation, and can adjust his body in the air to make plays on the football. Bateman is also able to secure the ball and make it look effortless doing so. The Ravens have had their fair share of receivers who constantly dropped passes, I can assure you that Bateman will not be one of them.
Bateman’s breakout season came in 2019. During that season he had 1,219 receiving yards on 60 receptions and 11 touchdowns. His stellar 2019 would not be an encore in 2020 after he chose to opt-out after five games to focus on the NFL Draft.
In the five games he played in 2020, Bateman caught 36 passes for 472 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Bateman finished his collegiate athletic career with 2,395 receiving yards on 147 receptions and nine touchdowns in three seasons.
It’s important to note that if Bateman chose to play his final season at Minnesota, he may have not fallen to the Ravens in the draft.
Drafted in the first round by the Ravens in 2019, Brown was believed to be the team’s true No.1 receiver. But he has not lived up to that hype. Before coming to Baltimore, Brown was highly productive for the Oklahoma Sooners.
During his two seasons with the Sooners, Brown posted 2,413 receiving yards on 132 receptions for 17 touchdowns. Coming out of college he weighed 166 pounds. Not big in NFL standards. But what he lacked in size he made up for in speed. Despite not participating in the 2019 NFL Combine due to a foot injury, he previously was timed on a 4.33 40-time.
During the 2020 season, Brown was the best receiver on the team, most of that can be attributed to the lack of talent around him. The depth chart at the receiver position to begin the season featured Brown, Willie Snead, Boykin, and Chris Moore.
In November, the Ravens signed veteran wide receiver Dez Bryant to the 53 man roster after missing nearly three years of action. Baltimore did not have a clue what they wanted to do at receiver and the signing of Bryant made it evident.
Brown finished the regular season with 769 yards on 58 receptions and eight touchdowns. In his two seasons combined he had 1,353 yards on 104 receptions with 15 touchdowns.
The Ravens made it a point to get Lamar Jackson more receivers this offseason. Despite not landing Allen Robinson, T.Y. Hilton JuJu Smith-Schuster, or Kenny Golladay like they were rumored to be shopping, the team added Sammy Watkins in free agency, drafted Bateman, Wallace and picked up undrafted rookie free agent Donte Sylencieux. The depth chart at the receiver position should feature Bateman, Brown, and Watkins securing the starting roles.
Brown has a good friendship with Jackson but injuries and lack of a passing attack have hurt his production in two seasons. While Bateman is only a rookie, the team made it known that they want to upgrade the passing game. The addition of Bateman will improve that. Both receivers will feed off one another demanding to be covered. They can get beyond the secondary in seconds.
At the end of the season, Bateman will have more touchdowns and receiving yards than Brown. Bateman will earn the title of No. 1 receiver in this offense that has not been seen in a long time.