Rookie minicamp will provide an early glimpse of the potential of the 2021 rookie class.
Here are some things the Ravens want to accomplish during rookie minicamp, when players take the field Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Under Armour Performance Center:
Getting Rashod Bateman Off to a Solid Start
As the Ravens' top draft pick, Bateman has the potential to be a weapon who makes a difference in the offense right away. He played with swagger at Minnesota from Day 1, looking like a wide receiver with NFL potential even as a freshman. He ran effective routes as either an outside receiver or from the slot, and Bateman was a poised player who rarely made mistakes.
Now Bateman is making another major transition from college to the NFL, playing one of the most challenging positions for rookies. During camp, Bateman needs to show reliable hands and gain a comfort level with the offense. Once the vets arrive this summer, he will be tested even more, trying to develop chemistry with Lamar Jackson while being defended in practice by elite corners like Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. A strong rookie minicamp would give Bateman a solid foundation to build on.
Finding Ways to Use Odafe Oweh's Impressive Skill Set
The losses of Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and Jihad Ward in free agency creates an opportunity for Oweh to earn reps as a rookie if he ready. Oweh played both with his and on the ground and standing in Penn State's defense, and he did so effectively. Putting Oweh's into Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale's system could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Oweh was a basketball player as youngster who didn't start playing football until his junior year of high school. Having only played football for five years, he is still learning the nuances of the game and working to improve his technique as a pass rusher.
While he has plenty of untapped potential, Oweh will be working against better offensive linemen in the NFL than he saw in college. The challenge for Oweh is to become more of a sack producer for the Ravens than he was at Penn State, while remaining a dominant force against the run. That's a lot to ask, but the Ravens have done an excellent job developing pass rushers in the past, and Oweh's lights-out Pro Day performance confirmed that he's one of the best athletes in the draft.
The Ravens were also impressed by hard Oweh plays on every down, and how rapidly he has improved up to this point in his career. Ravens coaches will eager to start their work with Oweh at minicamp, knowing he's a player who has a chance to become a defensive force.
Getting Ben Cleveland Up to Speed at Left Guard
Head Coach John Harbaugh made it no secret that he was stoked when the Cleveland fell to the Ravens with the 94th-overall pick. Cleveland's nickname is "Big Country," and coming to the Ravens gives him a big opportunity to show he's ready to start as a rookie.
The better Cleveland looks, the greater chance he has to take over as the starting left guard if Bradley Bozeman moves to center. Cleveland's 6-foot-6, 357-pound size and natural strength will take him far, but in order to be an immediate starter, he will have to get up to speed with the scheme and NFL's demand for consistent technique.
Watching Tylan Wallace Work at Wide Receiver
Wallace was a playmaker in college who was a master at getting open, or making contested catches when he wasn't open. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Wallace played bigger than his size, and the Ravens hope that trait transfers to the next level. It will be harder to routinely make so many contested catches against bigger, more physical cornerbacks in the NFL, so Wallace continue to develop many ways to get open.
Just like Bateman, Wallace will be defended by Baltimore's talented group of cornerbacks once training camp starts, so he'll be tested on a daily basis. Rookie camp will give new Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin and new Pass Game Specialist Keith Williams their first chance to work with the two wide receivers that the Ravens drafted.
Finding Gems Among the Undrafted Rookies
Undrafted rookie safety Ar'Darious Washington of TCU was expected to be drafted by many scouts. The Ravens may be looking for more depth at the position, although third-round cornerback Brandon Stephens is seen as player with the potential to play safety in the NFL.
Baltimore's 16-year streak of having at least one undrafted player make the 53-man roster ended last year. However, all of the nine undrafted rookies who signed Thursday will be hoping to catch the eyes of coaches, hoping to prove they deserve a long look as they try to realize their NFL dream.
Learning More About Young Defensive Backs Brandon Stephens and Shaun Wade
Though Stephens played both running back and cornerback during his college career, his future could be at safety if he adapts to that position quickly. The Ravens will likely use minicamp to give him some reps at both positions.
Wade was a terrific inside corner at Ohio State in 2019, but he didn't play as well at outside corner in 2020, dealing with injuries and several losses in his family. The Ravens will want to find out quickly where Wade can be most effective, while helping him get back to the level of play he showed in 2019.