Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman remembers being riveted watching videotape of Rashod Bateman before the draft.
It wasn't just Bateman's talent as a pass-catcher that intrigued Roman. He saw a receiver who was multidimensional, able to attack defenses effectively from both outside or in the slot.
Now as the Ravens' top pick in the 2021 draft, Bateman is one of Roman's intriguing new weapons. So is Tylan Wallace, a fourth-rounder who caught 205 passes at Oklahoma State.
With Roman as their play-caller, the Ravens have been the NFL's top rushing team the past two seasons and that's an identity they embrace. However, they want to do more than just dominate on the ground. They want to produce more dynamite through the air, and more balance to their attack.
With Bateman and Wallace joining Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay, Miles Boykin and James Proche II, the Ravens have the deepest and most versatile wide receiver group of Roman's tenure. He envisions them attacking opponents in multiple ways, feeding off each other and accentuating the talents of quarterback Lamar Jackson.
"I don't want to call it an embarrassment of riches, but when you talk about Hollywood and Devin and Miles, I really feel good about the guys we have," Roman said. "This offense is really one that runs through Lamar. We're always going to do what gives us the best chance to win. When you add talent like that, it's really going to expand our profile quite a bit, actually. To play with the kind of balance that we really want to play with.
"I really think it will probably take some pressure off guys that have been here like Marquise, free him up a little bit as well. The field's about 53 yards wide, and I think people are going to have to defend all 53 yards of it."
All teams gush about their draft picks, but Roman spoke in detail about why he is excited to add Bateman to the mix. The top priority for the Ravens' opponents has been defending the run, even when it means selling out and committing eight or nine players to the box and leaving themselves more vulnerable to the pass. But Bateman has the speed and talent to make opponents pay for that approach.
"There's more passing plays per year than running plays," Roman said. "We want to be great at both. There's times when people from a numerical standpoint are just going to dare you to throw it and just commit more to defend the run than you can possibly hope to have sustained success against. That's where we really want to take a big step this year. I think that's really going to be key to us taking a big step offensively.
"The thing that hits my brain is 'Right place, right time' when I think about Rashod Bateman here with the Ravens. Because I think he brings a style that is really going to compliment the guys who are here right now."
Wallace will have to earn his reps as a rookie, but his potential to make plays for the Ravens as a rookie is real. Many draft analysts expected Wallace to be drafted much higher and believe the Ravens got a fourth-round steal.
"When you look at Tylan Wallace, the best part of his game, he can take it downtown and he can win the 50-50 ball," NFL Network's Bucky Brooks said. "Looking forward to seeing him take advantage of the one-on-one coverage that he'll see when he's with the Baltimore Ravens."
Roman's playbook is ever-evolving, and after the draft, it's about to get even bigger. He's not going to tell you everything he plans to do, but Roman promises that with new weapons, there will be new wrinkles.
"Definitely some things that people are going to see from us that they haven't seen before," Roman said. "Our staff is working really hard and diligently on that. When you really look at who we have to beat in the AFC these days, you've got to have talent everywhere. There's some really good teams out there. I really feel great about what we're building here. Schematically wise, we're always going to change it a little bit. I'd probably say more so this year than we did last year."