The Baltimore Ravens‘ rookie class enjoyed solid year-one production in 2021, but the group was far from the best in the league.
The Ravens have one of the better draft histories of all teams in the league, and they did their due diligence in selecting players in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Yet due to the Ravens’ injury-ravaged season, some rookies needed to step up earlier rather than later, and not all performed up to task.
NFL.com’s Nick Shook graded each AFC North team’s rookie class in 2021 and ranked the Ravens as third-best in the division.
"“After a hype-filled preseason, Bateman’s debut was delayed by injury. While he finished with a decent rookie campaign, he also averaged less than 50 yards per game, leaving Ravens fans still hungry for a game-changing receiver.Oweh stormed out of the gate with three sacks and two forced fumbles in his first five games, and though he cooled off down the stretch, he scored a spot on the PFWA All-Rookie Team.”"
Shook briefly describes each rookie’s impact from first-rounder Rashod Bateman to fifth-rounder Ben Mason, all in all giving Baltimore a “B” grade for its players’ Year 1 performances.
Ravens’ rookies get good, not great, performance grades for 2021
It’s not hard to see why the Ravens may have missed the mark on this particular rookie class, though. Whereas the Cincinnati Bengals struck gold with Ja’Marr Chase, the Ravens mined for a duller but still valuable prospect in Rashod Bateman.
Despite Bateman’s solid rookie campaign, Shook believes the Ravens are still in the market for a young, “game-changing” receiver. Bateman finished with 46 catches for 515 yards in 12 games played, but the biggest knock on his performance was failing to generate chemistry with Lamar Jackson.
With both Bateman and Jackson healthy in 2022, the two should hopefully boost Baltimore’s passing offense and add the extra dynamic dimension Baltimore is looking for.
As for the others, Oweh still has areas to develop before he can reach his ceiling as a pass-rusher, while guard Ben Cleveland and safety Brandon Stephens were serviceable enough.
The 2022 preseason will tell whether on-the-bubble players like Tylan Wallace and raw, unproven talents like Daelin Hayes can make more of an impact this year.
The Ravens would love to see a significant jump in production from all their rookies in Year 2, but a few — likely Bateman and Oweh — may be on faster tracks to success.