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Late for Work: Pundit Says Rashod Bateman Has What He Needs for Breakout Season

WR Rashod Bateman
WR Rashod Bateman

Pundit Says Rashod Bateman Has What He Needs to Have Breakout Season

After putting pen to paper on a contract extension yesterday, Rashod Bateman has a blank page on which to write the next chapter of his still young career.

Russell Street Report’s Dev Panchwagh believes the ingredients are there to expect an exciting development in the wide receiver's story in 2024.

"He has what he needs from the team in the way of a financial and personnel commitment to finally put it all together," Panchwagh wrote. "Time for Bateman to turn into the Dark Knight for the offense.

"At his absolute worst, Bateman is a high-end No.3 in this league. The bar is really a No.2. And the upside could still be there for even more, which was always a true No. 1."

Despite Bateman being hindered by injuries during his three-year career, the Ravens have never wavered in their belief in the 2021 first-round pick. Both General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh said this offseason that they expect Bateman to have a breakout season.

Panchwagh said their confidence in Bateman making a big leap is understandable. First and foremost, Bateman will enter the season healthy. He also figures to get more targets.

"The team is fully committed to getting him more involved in the offense," Panchwagh wrote. "Bateman was woefully under-targeted in 2023. But it's also quite evident that's because he was essentially splitting snaps with veteran Odell Beckham Jr.

"Bateman should not only get more chances, but it's the types of targets he gets that will also matter for his production. He was used a lot as a field stretcher on clear out routes. And he was also targeted on vertical routes, which is where the lower-percentage misconnections happened with Lamar Jackson. While Bateman can stretch the field, that's not what he should be counted on, especially if the idea is to get him the ball more. He's elite at creating space on underneath patterns and getting open quickly off the line. It's incumbent that Jackson is able to get him the ball in rhythm and on time."

Panchwagh believes the arrival of fourth-round wide receiver Devontez Walker will benefit Bateman.

"[Walker] can be that vertical option in the offense who is tasked to take the top off the defense," Panchwagh wrote. "For Bateman, having Walker means he's able to work the intermediate and underneath area of the field, along with Zay Flowers. Although both WRs are also fully capable of making plays downfield, you could argue they function better all over and in space. Bateman is quite good after the catch and that may be even better for him with another offseason to recover from the Lisfranc [foot injury]."

Looking at the Ravens' Winners and Losers Coming Out of the Draft

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec and Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer identified the Ravens' winners and losers coming out of the draft:


ILB Trenton Simpson

"It wasn't expected that the Ravens would use prime draft capital to replace Patrick Queen. DeCosta did that a year earlier when he selected Simpson in the third round. However, the Ravens not adding an inside linebacker in this draft reinforces the idea that they are more than comfortable with Simpson replacing Queen and starting alongside Roquan Smith. The added bonus for Simpson was that Baltimore drafted Wiggins, his former Clemson teammate." — Zrebiec

Manager of Data and Decision Science Derrick Yam

"DeCosta shouted Yam out twice during his draft news conference, praising a behind-the-scenes member of the organization's personnel staff. Yam sold DeCosta on the idea that the Ravens could stick at 30 and still get a player they had ranked in the top 20 on their board. Wiggins was comfortably inside the Ravens' top 20. It was also Yam who less assuredly told DeCosta there was an 80 percent chance offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten would still be available at pick No. 62 in the second round — and Baltimore wouldn't need to trade up to get him. DeCosta wasn't necessarily buying it, but Yam's initial sense was prescient." — Zrebiec

Assistant Head Coach / Pass Game Coordinator Chris Hewitt

"The Ravens' pass game coordinator got a promotion in February, named assistant head coach after an offseason exodus on the defensive staff. Now Hewitt and first-year secondary coach Doug Mallory will get another piece for a pass defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL last season in efficiency, according to FTN. DeCosta called first-round pick Nate Wiggins the draft's 'best cover corner' and a potential 'true shutdown-type corner.' If Wiggins, an outside cornerback at Clemson, is too talented to keep off the field, the Ravens could move Marlon Humphrey into the slot and keep Brandon Stephens out wide. With Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams returning at safety, Hewitt and first-year Defensive Coordinator Zach Orr can get creative in the back end." — Shaffer

Safety depth

"After losing Geno Stone in free agency, the Ravens waited until the seventh round to draft a potential replacement safety, taking Purdue's Sanoussi Kane early Saturday night. But their savviest acquisition of the day might've been Maryland safety Beau Brade. The Clarksville native and former River Hill standout was the No. 143 player on Hasan's consensus big board, but he went undrafted and signed with the Ravens as a priority free agent. Like Stone, Brade doesn't have great speed (4.65-second 40-yard dash), but he was a team captain and two-year starter for a stout Terps secondary. If Ar'Darius Washington can remain healthy, the Ravens could have better depth at the position than expected." — Shaffer


Candidates for final wide receiver spot(s)

"With Flowers, Bateman and Nelson Agholor, the Ravens are pretty set with their top three receivers. The candidates for the final two or maybe three receiving spots on the 53-man roster just got some more competition with Baltimore drafting Devontez Walker in the fourth round and adding some college free-agent receivers after the draft. Walker will be on the team as long as he's healthy. Assuming the Ravens' top three receivers are also ready to go, that leaves maybe one or two roster spots for a group that includes Deonte Harty, Tylan Wallace, Sean Ryan and any receivers added in the coming weeks." — Zrebiec

Cornerbacks Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams

"Both fourth-round picks in 2022, Armour-Davis and Williams have struggled to remain healthy for the Ravens, appearing in just 27 games combined over two seasons. It was already setting up to be a crucial summer for their futures before the Ravens used two of their first five picks on cornerbacks. There remains a path to the 53-man roster for both young corners who the Ravens like, but Armour-Davis and Williams are operating with significantly less margin of error now." — Zrebiec

OT Daniel Faalele

"That the Ravens drafted another challenger for the right tackle job was not surprising. That they took someone whose athletic profile is diametrically opposed to Faalele's was, at the very least, interesting. Rosengarten is 6 feet 5 and 308 pounds, with short arms (26th percentile among offensive tackles) but good speed (4.92-second 40-yard dash). Faalele is 6-8 and 380 pounds, with long arms (89th percentile) but limited open-field range. DeCosta said Friday that coordinator Todd Monken's offense works best with pass protectors who can 'do a lot of things out in space.' The Ravens leaned more on screen passes last year, and Derrick Henry thrived in the Tennessee Titans' wide-zone run schemes, which tend to favor agile linemen." — Shaffer

Who Will Start at Guard Spots Named Ravens' Biggest Post-Draft Question

Offensive line was the Ravens' biggest need entering the draft, and while they did get Rosengarten, they only selected one other offensive lineman (seventh-round center Nick Samac) and didn't draft anyone who started a game at guard in college.

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley said that who will start at both guard spots is the Ravens' biggest post-draft question.

"Baltimore didn't draft a guard despite losing both of its starters — Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson — in free agency and not signing any veterans to replace them," Hensley wrote. "After the draft, Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta said backup Ben Cleveland, second-year lineman Andrew Vorhees and rookie Nick Samac all could be options to step up to fill those spots at left and right guard."

The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker expressed a similar sentiment, saying that the Ravens not selecting an offensive lineman with a chance to start at guard was the only disappointment about the team's draft haul.

"They accomplished their mission at tackle, but the Ravens also need starters at both guard spots," Walker wrote. "Andrew Vorhees is akin to a mid-round pick after his redshirt rookie season. Ben Cleveland is still looking for a shot in his fourth season. Offseason addition Josh Jones was a 2020 third-round pick. Those are three maybes for a team that had the luxury of depending on Kevin Zeitler the last three seasons. A third- or fourth-round guard would have been another maybe but would have at least freshened up the competition.

"As DeCosta said, other teams took that possibility out of the Ravens' hands by snatching 10 guards and tackles over the first 22 picks of the third round. They might have taken Connecticut's Christian Haynes or Kansas' Dominick Puni over [third-round pass rusher Adisa] Isaac but didn't have the chance. Their board said the value was largely sucked out of the guard class by pick No. 93."

Our own Ryan Mink said the fact that DeCosta didn't reach for a guard shows that he has faith in the potential of the team's in-house options to emerge this summer as the two starters.

"Nobody thought this time last year that John Simpson would be a very solid 17-game starter. Nobody thought the year before that Ben Powers would get a huge free-agent contract elsewhere," Mink wrote. "Those young players deserve a chance to develop and win the job. At the same time, I anticipate that DeCosta and his staff will keep an eye on which veteran guards inevitably are released at some point following the draft."

Ravens' Draft Class Not in Top 10 in The Athletic's Rankings

The Ravens received high draft grades from most pundits, but Baltimore's draft class was outside the top 10 in The Athletic's Dane Brugler's rankings.

The Ravens came in at No. 12 in the rankings, which Brugler based on the prospects drafted and the values of where they were selected.

Wiggins was Brugler's favorite pick, while fourth-round cornerback T.J. Tampa was named the Day 3 pick who could surprise.

"In typical Ravens fashion, they waited and allowed a good player to fall into their laps late in Round 1," Brugler wrote. "Although I have my concerns with his play strength and body type, Wiggins is a high-level athlete who has the cover skills to make a quick impact. Marlon Humphrey and Wiggins make for an impressive starting cornerback duo.

"A player who went about 100 spots later than most expected, Tampa hurt himself during the pre-draft process by turning down the Senior Bowl and then running a 4.58 40 at his pro day. He doesn't have ideal speed or twitch for man coverage, but his size and ball skills are traits worth developing on the outside."

Ravens Are No. 3 in's Post-Draft Power Rankings

The Ravens held steady at No. 3 in’s post-draft power rankings.

"It was a fairly Ravens-y draft, with few big surprises and plenty of solid value picks filling both immediate and longer-term needs," Eric Edholm wrote. "It would be fair to ask if Baltimore is done adding to the offensive line. Second-rounder Roger Rosengarten likely starts at right tackle right away. Center Nick Samac was the only other OL pick, putting the seventh-rounder in the mix to back up Tyler Linderbaum. Adding veteran help up front makes sense. But the Ravens bolstered the defense on all three days of the draft, with first-rounder Nate Wiggins and fourth-rounder T.J. Tampa joining the unit as two different styles of cornerback who can help combat the AFC North's stud receivers.

"The Ravens are just good at the draft. Instead of panicking on the offensive line, they let the board kind of dictate how they proceeded. I think that's the right way to do it most of the time. Baltimore isn't going anywhere, folks."

The only teams ranked ahead of the Ravens are the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.

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