For those who envision the Ravens drafting a wide receiver with their top pick, the debate comes down to this: Terrace Marshall Jr. or Rashod Bateman?
Marshall has been the most widely projected player to the Ravens in mock drafts. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has stuck with the big-bodied LSU product the entire time. Bateman has also been a frequent mock draft target and may be moving up draft boards after running a sizzling 4.39 at his Minnesota pro day.
"Both are talented guys," Ravens Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz said Monday. "A little different at what they do best, but certainly two guys that we have our eye on."
So who do the draft experts think of them? Here's what Hortiz, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., and NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks said.
Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU
Size: 6-foot-2, 205 pounds
Stats: 2020 – 7 games, 48 receptions, 731 yards, 10 touchdowns; 2019 – 12 games, 46 receptions, 671 yards, 13 touchdowns
Pro Day: 40-yard dash – 4.40; Vertical jump – 39 inches
Summary: Marshall played alongside Justin Jefferson (a record-setting NFL rookie) and Ja'Marr Chase (a top-10 pick) in 2019 and still posted 13 scores. With Jefferson lighting up the NFL and Chase opting out, Marshall was the top dog and delivered despite worse quarterback play with Joe Burrow also gone. He showed the ability to stretch the field with his speed and still make above-the-rim contested catches with his size and wingspan.
"He's a guy that played outside last year and showed his explosiveness as an outside receiver. He took on a greater role this year in the slot, so he's shown that versatility. He's shown the ability to win at all three levels, and he has great size and speed. So, he's a player that, obviously, throughout his career has shown the ability to produce from different platforms of an offense." – Hortiz
"I like the fact that he has the kind of size they want and has the production already behind him, both at the high school level and college level. When he had Justin Jefferson there and had Ja'Marr Chase there, he was still catching 13 touchdown passes and doing a really good job. He can play slot, he can play wide, he can do things versatility-wise that you need. I think he's NFL ready." – Kiper
"Terrace Marshall is a guy that came on like gangbusters this year stepping in for Ja'Marr Chase. You saw the production that he was able to put up. Then when you think about his height, weight, speed, his playmaking ability, his ability to play with physicality and toughness while also displaying explosiveness, there's a lot to like about him." – Brooks
Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
Size: 6-foot-0, 190 pounds
Stats: 2020 – 5 games, 36 receptions, 472 yards, 2 touchdowns; 2019 – 13 games, 60 receptions, 1,219 yards, 11 touchdowns
Pro Day: 40-yard dash – 4.39; Vertical jump – 36 inches
Summary: Bateman is a polished route-runner who can make every catch and is a major threat with the ball in his hands. There were questions about his speed, but he eased those concerns with a blazing fast 40-yard dash at his pro day. He had big-time production in 2019 when he was named the Big Ten receiver of the year.
"Rashod Bateman, to me, is one of the most complete receivers in the draft. You talk about a guy that can play in the slot, can play out wide. He is a terrific route-runner. He has some special catch-and-run ability that leads you to believe that he's a guy that you just want to get him the ball in space and let him work." – Brooks
"Bateman, had he played like he did in 2019, would have been the guy. I thought he would be a top-10, top-15 pick back in August. And then you watch him and he just didn't look like the same player. You say, 'What's wrong?' And then you find out the COVID issue, and he also has asthma, and working through this year was a challenge for Rashod Bateman, admittedly. You've got to almost throw that year out and look at 2019 and before. That 4.39 at his pro day was an eye-opener. I thought 4.45 would have been good enough. That, and we know he's a great kid, we know what a hard worker he is, and we know he has the versatility." – Kiper
So which player has a better chance of getting to No. 27 and which fits Baltimore better?
Kiper believes there's a chance that both will be there, but feels Bateman is the hotter prospect right now after his 40-yard dash. Though Kiper has projected Marshall slightly ahead of Bateman in his mock drafts, he said he hasn't settled on which one he would rank higher.
"Either one of them [would be good]," Kiper said. "If they're both there, that's going to be interesting. If one is gone, that makes it a little easier. I think both of them could possibly be there. Bateman seems like the hot guy right now between the two."
Brooks said the two players are "very comparable in terms of talent level" but leans toward Bateman over Marshall for the Ravens.
"I don't know that you can go wrong with either guy, but I'm thinking about Baltimore and what is needed, I would probably lean toward Bateman because Bateman is more of your classic, traditional, No. 1 receiver that you would see year after year after year," he said.
Jeremiah doesn't think either would be a good value at pick No. 27, but could see Baltimore trading back and selecting one with its top pick – though he feels adding a pass rusher would make more sense. Though he said they're both "really good players," Jeramiah has Marshall ranked 37th on his big board and Bateman at No. 48.
"If you're going to take a wide receiver, to me, I don't really see the value of sticking and picking," Jeremiah said. "I think you trade back, get some extra value, and you'll have plenty of good options in the second round."