The Baltimore Ravens aren’t exactly known for leaning heavily on their rookies. But that might need to change in 2021.
NFL.com’s Marc Sessler recently released a list detailing one remaining priority for every AFC team. And for the Ravens, he insisted that the team must “lean on their rookie class” this season.
Historically speaking, the Ravens have been a veteran-reliant team in recent years, especially on defense.
While players like Patrick Queen and Marquise Brown were immediately thrust into prominent roles, the majority of the team’s draft classes tend to play part-time roles early on.
Such is the case with a talented, veteran-heavy team that has picked in the latter half of the first round in recent drafts.
But in 2021, they might be forced to rely on their rookies.
The Baltimore Ravens must lean on their rookie class in 2021
Baltimore is expected to have at least two day-one starters from their rookie class this season. First-round pick Rashod Bateman is expected to slide right into a starting role and should make an immediate impact.
The 28th overall pick is a refined route-runner who possesses an NFL-ready skill set that should allow him to receive plenty of playing time early on.
The Ravens also plan to start third-round pick Ben Cleveland at left guard, perhaps following in the footsteps of fellow former third-round linemen who started early in their Baltimore careers — Marshal Yanda and Orlando Brown.
Cleveland made waves in rookie minicamp for his unorthodox and infectious persona. It’s unclear if the 6-foot-6, 347-pound Cleveland has a larger body or personality.
But the early contributions might have to come from other players as well.
The Ravens’ second first-round pick, Odafe Oweh, might be thrust into a featured role early on, despite his rawness coming out of college.
Oweh will be part of an unproven Ravens pass-rush rotation and could receive significant snaps on defense if he impresses in training camp.
The same could be said for fifth-round pick Daelin Hayes who similarly will be fighting for playing time at edge rusher.
Fourth-round pick Tylan Wallace could compete for snaps as the team’s fourth wide receiver with his primary competition coming in the form of holdovers Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay.
Don’t forget about fifth-round pick Ben Mason, either. The last of eight picks in the Ravens’ 2021 class, Mason could see playing time as a fullback/tight end hybrid and is a great fit in Baltimore’s power run offense.
The Ravens will be relying on their rookie class to contribute quite a bit in 2021.