Late for Work 4/5: Five Prospects Who Make Sense for Ravens in First Round

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Left: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman; Right: Tulsa LB Zaven Collins

Five Prospects Who Make Sense for Ravens in First Round

With the NFL Draft just over three weeks away, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec looked at 10 players who make sense for the Ravens with the 27th-overall pick.

Here are five of those players, with Zrebiec's analysis:

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Why it makes sense: "At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Bateman is the type of big, physical and fast target the Ravens lack on the outside. He was extremely productive at Minnesota, averaging 16.3 yards per catch, and he erased any concerns about his speed by running a 4.39 40-yard dash at his pro day last week."

Note: Bateman actually measured in closer to 6-foot-0 at his pro day last week.

Why it may not: "This is an extremely deep wide receiver draft, and the Ravens may feel they can get a comparable receiver on Day 2 and target another need in the first round. [General Manager Eric] DeCosta has taken four receivers in the past two drafts, including three within the first three rounds, so there could be a hesitance to invest another premium draft pick in a position that the run-first team doesn't fully utilize."

Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

Why it makes sense: "Ravens Defensive Coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale loves versatile players, and the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Collins is big enough to take on guards inside, explosive enough to rush from off the edge and quick enough to stay with running backs and tight ends in pass coverage. He also has a knack for making big plays, as he had four sacks, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns for Tulsa in an extremely productive final college season."

Why it may not: "It's not an exact comparison, but it seems Collins would be asked to do similar things for the Ravens to what [Tyus] Bowser already does. The Ravens are thin at the outside linebacker spot, but what they mostly lack there are dynamic pass-rushing skills. Collins certainly has pass-rush ability, but the strength of his game is in its versatility, not in terrorizing quarterbacks."

Landon Dickerson, C/G, Alabama

Why it makes sense: "If you toss out the injury and durability concerns, Dickerson is a first-round lock who would be gone well before the Ravens are on the clock. He checks every box from a play and personality standpoint, and he'd be a Day 1 starter for the Ravens and the final piece of a much-improved offensive interior."

Why it may not: "Injuries. That's really the only blemish on Dickerson's draft stock. He had significant ankle issues at Florida State and tore his ACL while playing for Alabama last December. Whether it's late first or early to mid-second round, somebody is going to overlook the injury concerns and take a chance on him. He's that good."

Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

Why it makes sense: "With left tackle Ronnie Stanley coming back from a major ankle injury and [Orlando] Brown Jr. wanting a trade, the Ravens have questions at both tackle spots in the present and future. Stanley is said to be making good progress and there is optimism he'll be ready for Week 1, and the trade market for Brown has been tepid, making it more likely he'll remain with the Ravens for at least one more season. The Ravens, however, could target Brown's ultimate replacement a year early and even opt to play Jenkins at guard for a year before he takes over at tackle. At 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, Jenkins is big and nasty."

Why it may not: "Jenkins is a polarizing prospect in some respects. Some evaluators are concerned about his less-than-ideal arm length for a tackle and some issues with range and balance. He's not a lock to be drafted in the first round."

Jaelan Phillips, OLB, Miami

Why it makes sense: "Few college edge rushers were as productive last season as Phillips. He has the size and explosiveness to develop into a frontline pass rusher in the NFL. He has the speed and quickness to get to the quarterback off the edge, and he's strong enough to move inside as well. As far as upside, he probably has more of it than any other pass rusher in the draft class."

Why it may not: "As with Dickerson, injuries and durability questions are the only things keeping Phillips from being a top-25 lock. Phillips has had multiple concussions and also dealt with extensive ankle injuries earlier in his college career. … There are enough quality pass rushers in this draft that the Ravens can afford to be choosy."

Ravens Are Built to Contend for Championship This Season and Beyond

To some observers, it may seem like it's been a quiet offseason for the Ravens, but DeCosta has made sound moves that have kept the team among the leading Super Bowl contenders while setting the team up for success beyond 2021.

In addition to signing guard Kevin Zeitler and wide receiver Sammy Watkins in free agency for reasonable rates, the Ravens also re-signed key defensive players Bowser, Derek Wolfe and L.J. Fort.

Ebony Bird's Chris Schisler praised DeCosta for not mortgaging the future while still trying to win a Super Bowl now.

"A large portion of the fanbase wanted the Ravens to drop 18-20 million dollars per season on a player like Kenny Golladay. It's hard to blame somebody for this kind of thinking. Who doesn't want Golladay on their roster?" Schisler wrote. "If the Ravens were desperate they would make that move. They'd attack need beyond their means and they'd reach for depth chart luxury wherever they could get it. The Ravens aren't desperate. They don't believe that they have to win a Super Bowl in [Lamar] Jackson's rookie contract or it's all over.

"The salary cap wasn't as high as anybody hoped it would be. The Ravens weren't going to go crazy with contracts. If the Ravens end up signing Jackson and [Mark] Andrews to long-term contracts it's worth it. If the Ravens keep the core together and a few young Ravens step into that essential group of players, the Ravens are contenders for an era not just Jackson's rookie deal. … Winning a Super Bowl [this season] can't be the end game. The Ravens want multiple rings."

WR Deon Cain Is an 'Intriguing Prospect'

Signing wide receiver Deon Cain to a Reserve/Future contract in late January is an under-the-radar move that could potentially help boost the Ravens' passing game, Sports Illustrated's Todd Karpovich wrote.

Cain, a 2018 sixth-round pick by the Indianapolis Colts, spent the past two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He caught five passes for 72 yards in six games in 2019, then spent much of the 2020 season on Pittsburgh's practice squad.

"He's an intriguing prospect heading into offseason workouts and training camp," Karpovich wrote. "At 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, he has solid size to match up with cornerbacks. … Cain has drawn comparisons to veteran wide receiver Kenny Stills."

Cain was a star at Clemson, where he caught 20 touchdown passes over three seasons and was a member of the Tigers' 2016 national championship team.

"Some draft analysts expected Cain to be taken in the second or third round of the NFL Draft," Karpovich wrote.

Cain suffered a torn ACL at the end of a strong rookie training camp, but Colts Head Coach Frank Reich said at the time that "we know we've got something special in Deon Cain."

Cain will have a tough battle for a roster spot in a receiver room that includes Marquise "Hollywood' Brown, Watkins, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and any Ravens draft pick, but he's a player to watch.

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