Mel Kiper Mocks First-Round Receiver to Ravens
If the Ravens are going to add more talent at wide receiver, ESPN's Mel Kiper believes it will be through the draft.
In his first mock draft of the offseason, Kiper has the Ravens selecting LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. with the 27th-overall pick.
"The Ravens' passing attack did not take a step forward in Lamar Jackson's second full season as the starting quarterback," Kiper wrote. "Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown was the only receiver who caught at least 35 passes, and even he was too inconsistent. Baltimore had the fewest passing attempts, passing yards and passing first downs in the league. Adding another top-tier wideout is how it can really take the offense to the next level. Marshall was coming on as LSU's top wideout this season, and he had 10 touchdowns in seven games before he opted out of the season in November. He has some quickness in a 6-3 frame."
After star LSU receiver Ja'Marr Chase opted out of the 2020 college football season, Marshall led the Tigers in receptions (48) and touchdowns (10), and had 731 receiving yards. Marshall put up very similar stats during his sophomore season. Kiper ranked Marshall as the fourth-best receiver on his big board in November.
"With neither Chase nor [Justin] Jefferson in the mix in 2020, it was Marshall's chance to shine and he took full advantage," The Draft Network's Joe Marino wrote. "... Marshall is a versatile receiver that has proven himself both from the slot and out wide while attacking all levels of the field with consistency. He offers terrific size, physicality, hands, ball skills, run after catch ability, route-running skills, and overall technical-refinement. Marshall did miss three games in 2019 with a foot injury, had some minor drop issues creep up in 2020, and has some inconsistent moments as a blocker, but there isn't much in the way of notable concerns as he enters the next level. Marshall has the potential to become a productive piece of an NFL offense that can produce in a variety of ways."
Whether or not the Ravens target one of the premier free-agent receivers, continuing to build the position through the draft is important.
The Ravens have reiterated that they're not going to shy away from being a run-first offense, but that doesn't mean they're disregarding the receiving core.
Since Eric DeCosta took over as general manager, the Ravens have taken more swings at wide receivers early in the draft. They drafted Brown in the first round, along with Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay in the third round.
"Their injection of young talent at the position will likely continue this year even if it is with just one rookie and not two," Baltimore Beatdown's Joshua Reed wrote. "With significant draft capital already pumped into their pass-catching corps and more expected on the horizon, the team might be reluctant to pay the big bucks to a veteran that will take snaps away and potentially stunt the development of their younger players."
How a Coaching Opportunity for David Culley Could Benefit the Ravens
Ravens Assistant Head Coach David Culley reportedly went to Houston yesterday for a second interview with the Texans for their head coaching vacancy.
Not only could it be an opportunity for Culley to become a head coach, but it could also benefit the Ravens in draft compensation.
In November, NFL owners approved a proposal that would reward teams with a third-round compensatory pick for two consecutive years for developing minority coaches and front office executives who go on to become head coaches or general managers elsewhere.
Culley has spent two seasons with the Ravens as the assistant head coach/pass coordinator/wide receivers coach. He is one of two candidates (Buffalo Bills Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier) who reportedly received a second interview. The Texans are also expected to pursue Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
The appeal of the job centers around star quarterback Deshaun Watson, who Culley reportedly has a good connection with. Culley coached Watson as part of the Ravens' coaching staff in the Pro Bowl last season.
DeCosta told reporters on Monday that the Ravens would like to add more picks leading up to the draft, and this could be a way it happens.
The Ravens are projected to receive two compensatory picks, a fifth-round pick for the loss of Michael Pierce and seventh-round pick for the loss of Patrick Onwuasor. Seth Roberts' departure was canceled out by the addition of Derek Wolfe, and Josh Bynes was considered a "Non-Compensatory" free-agent loss, according to OverTheCap.
One Pundit Says the AFC Has Become a One-Team Conference
Has the AFC become a one-team race? That's what NFL Network's Kyle Brandt said about the Kansas City Chiefs on "Good Morning Football."
"I learned this weekend that the AFC does not exist anymore," Brandt said. "The AFC is no more. It is now the 'MFC.' It is the Mahomes Football Conference. … Patrick Mahomes has now owned the entire NFL yet, but he owns the MFC. … It's his conference, [and] you have to do something about it."
There's no denying the Chiefs' success. They're headed to a second straight Super Bowl and have reached the AFC Championship game in three straight seasons with Mahomes.
Brandt said the torch has been passed from Tom Brady to Mahomes as the dominant force in the AFC, and that it's up to the other young quarterbacks in the conference, including Lamar Jackson, to change it.
Even during Brady's dominance with the New England Patriots, there were a number of teams that won Lombardi Trophies coming out of the AFC.