Fri, 25 Jun 2021

Late for Work 5/4: Ravens Landed Top Undrafted Free-Agent Signing

Baltimore Ravens
05 May 2021, 05:25 GMT+10

Kevin Eck

Ravens Got PFF's Top-Rated Undrafted Rookie

Not only have the Ravens excelled at drafting over the years, but the organization has done an outstanding job hitting on undrafted free agents.

Pro Football Focus' Zach Tantillo ranked Baltimore's reported signing of TCU safety Ar'Darius Washington at No. 1 on his list of best undrafted free-agent signings, while CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso had the signing at No. 2 on his list.

Washington was the No. 57-overall prospect on PFF's big board and was the top player remaining after the draft concluded.

"At 5-foot-8, 178 pounds, Washington is undersized for a safety, but that has yet to stop him from wreaking havoc in the secondary," Tantillo wrote. "He was PFF's second-highest-graded safety in 2019 (91.7), with Mike Renner comping him to Super Bowl champion Tyrann Mathieu in PFF's 2021 NFL Draft Guide.

"Baltimore wasted no time signing the TCU product, adding him to an already elite Ravens secondary. His versatility should be a fine addition to Baltimore's defense, as Washington played 100-plus snaps covering deep, in the box and the slot in both the 2019 and 2020 seasons."

Washington was rated as a fourth-round prospect by The Athletic's Dane Brugler, who added that he projects best as a nickel cornerback in the NFL. Trapasso said Washington is a quality player who slipped through the cracks, and he also compared Washington to Mathieu.

"In 2019, he had five picks and broke up an additional four passes, and while he certainly regressed in 2020 - some throws hit over the top in his coverage area -Washington's suddenness in the slot and when planting and driving on a sideline throw from the deep middle continued to pop on film," Trapasso wrote. "He's a rocket against the run, too.

"Washington is going to make the Ravens and shine in Baltimore's blitz-happy defense that leans on quality coverage from its safeties and highlights them as playmakers at the intermediate level."

The Ravens do not announce their undrafted rookies until their contracts are signed. Baltimore also drafted SMU cornerback Brandon Stephens in the third round and General Manager Eric DeCosta said he could project as a free safety. Baltimore could have two intriguing rookie safeties.

ESPN's Todd McShay: Tylan Wallace Was Ravens' Best Pick

ESPN's Todd McShay said Tylan Wallace was his favorite pick for the Ravens, who got "great value" by selecting the Oklahoma State wide receiver in the fourth round with the 131st-overall pick.

McShay had Wallace at No. 75 overall on his big board.

"Wallace is 5-foot-11, but he plays like he's 6-foot-3. He is physical and uses his body to pick up yards after the catch," McShay wrote. "Wallace isn't afraid of doing the dirty work in the middle of the field, but he also shows the speed to get downfield. He is a really smooth route runner with good acceleration and the versatility to line up in the slot or outside. Baltimore got what I consider a Day 2 wide receiver at No. 131 overall. That's great value."

Brugler also liked the Ravens' selection of Wallace.

"I find myself saying this every year, but good players seem to find the Ravens in each draft. And that was the case again this year with Wallace, falling a little further than expected (presumably due to concerns about his knee)," Brugler wrote. "He is physical to the football and consistently wins the catch point, which should translate to the NFL level."

Wallace suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in 2019 and has some family history with knee injuries, but he rebounded last season by posting 922 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 10 games. As a sophomore in 2018, Wallace had 86 catches for 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Rashod Bateman, Odafe Oweh Were Two of the Biggest First-Round Steals

So far today we've highlighted that the Ravens landed arguably the top undrafted free agent and got great value with a fourth-round pick. Not to be overlooked is what DeCosta and the Ravens pulled off on Day 1.

Baltimore got two of the biggest first-round steals in Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman (27th-overall pick) and Penn State edge rusher Odafe Oweh (31st-overall pick), according to PFF's Anthony Treash.

"Lamar Jackson finally got his WR1 with Rashod Bateman, who really should have been the fourth wide receiver off the board. He should have been taken in the teens," Treash wrote. "The new Ravens wideout may not be an all-around top-tier athlete, but he has route-running chops, release package and safe hands. He also offers a lot after the catch and has proven inside-outside versatility.

"Put simply, the Minnesota product has one of the highest floors in the entire class."

Treash said Oweh, who didn't play football until his junior year of high school, is just scratching the surface of how good he can be and is a great fit for Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale's defense.

"Oweh is a risky prospect, but getting him here at No. 31 as the fifth edge defender off the board was great value for the Ravens," Treash wrote. "Oweh was the 25th-ranked prospect on our big board, the second-ranked edge defender in the class. The Penn State product is one of the freakiest athletes you will ever see on a football field.

"[The Ravens'] blitz-heavy scheme is going to utilize Oweh's athleticism, and the Ravens will reap the rewards."

On a side note, Bateman spoke to Glenn Clark Radio yesterday about what it was like visiting the Ravens' facility on Friday and what message he has for Ravens fans.

"Being in the facility, seeing the logo, seeing all the things, just being there - it definitely hit me," Bateman said. "But it was fun. Surrounded by good people.

"I'm ready to get to work. I think we can do really special things in the future, so I'm excited about the future."

NFL Evaluator: Ravens Got 'Unbelievable Value for Every Pick'

The Ravens' draft class has received high grades from analysts, but NFL front office personnel also are praising the team's draft performance.

The Athletic surveyed NFL evaluators about how the 2021 draft played out, and the Ravens were one of the teams they were most impressed with.

"The Ravens were seen as 'solid as always' by one scout. Another evaluator said they had 'unbelievable value for every pick,'" The Athletic's Dam Pompei wrote. "He was particularly impressed with the selections of two wide receivers, Rashod Bateman in the first and Tylan Wallace in the fourth. He said Wallace would have been a first-round pick if not for knee problems that began with a torn ACL in 2019. 'Lamar Jackson will have a chance to shine with those receivers,' he said.

"He also said pass rusher Odafe Oweh, taken with the 31st selection, would have been a top-10 pick next year had he returned to Penn State for the 2021 season. Third-round picks Ben Cleveland, a guard, and Brandon Stephens, a cornerback, will be above-average starters, in his opinion."

Meanwhile, NFL.com's Adam Schein included the Ravens on his short list of "draft hauls I love," ranking their draft class at No. 4.

"Eric DeCosta, take a bow - again. The Ravens are just so great at owning the draft, and that continued in 2021," Schein wrote. "Sure, the deal that sent Orlando Brown Jr. from Baltimore to Kansas City was awesome for the Chiefs, who needed a left tackle to protect Patrick Mahomes. But from the Ravens' point of view, they landed a premium draft choice in exchange for a player who was never going to play for them again. Even better, Brown, who was originally a third-round pick, essentially turned into first-round pick Odafe Oweh - just watch defensive coordinator Wink Martindale turn the pass rushing prospect into a star."

Schein also liked the selections of Bateman and Wallace, writing that the former is "an instant-impact cat" and the latter "looks like a super strong choice in the fourth round."

Schein added: "That's not all; Georgia guard Ben Cleveland and SMU corner Brandon Stephens, both taken in the third round, were great picks. And I loved the addition of Ohio State corner Shaun Wade, drafted in Round 5. Forget Wade's struggles in 2020; he will thrive in Baltimore's culture."

Two Positions in Which the Ravens Still Need to Do More Work

As pleased as the Ravens should be with their draft, there are still some areas on the roster to address.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec cited offensive tackle and outside linebacker as the positions in which some work still needs to be done.

"Eric DeCosta will add a veteran starting tackle, such as Alejandro Villanueva or Dennis Kelly, sooner rather than later," Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens also will want to make sure they keep enough depth at the position with [Ronnie] Stanley coming back from a major injury."

Zrebiec said the Ravens have a nice mix at outside linebacker, but there's one missing piece.

"It feels like this group is missing that veteran who can give you more pass-rushing juice and you can count on to get 6-8 sacks," Zrebiec wrote. "Fortunately, Justin Houston, Ryan Kerrigan and Melvin Ingram are among the free agents still available."

Villanueva, Kelly and Houston reportedly visited the Ravens last month. As of 4 p.m. ET yesterday, unrestricted free agents who sign with a new team no longer count towards the compensatory pick formula. The Ravens have two fourth-round comp picks in the 2022 draft.

Quick Hits

The Ravens remained at No. 5 in NFL.com's post-draft power rankings.

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