The Baltimore Ravens used their first of two first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft to upgrade their receiver corps, snagging Rashod Bateman with the No. 27 overall pick, and then added wideout Tylan Wallace in the fourth round.
Bateman has the talent to be an alpha in Baltimore with NFL-ready route-running skills. He should immediately complement Marquise Brown atop the Ravens starting corps. Baltimore then returned to the position to add Wallace, who slipped due to injury concerns. Wallace has the skills to be a steal as a route technician with strong hands and a solid catch radius.
Bateman and Wallace joined a receiver corps that included Brown, Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay, Miles Boykin and James Proche. It's the deepest group of offensive coordinator Greg Roman's tenure.
Roman believes the additions this offseason will open up the passing offense for 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, via the team's official website. "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."
Ravens GM Eric DeCosta took issue with criticisms of his receiver corps ahead of the draft, saying those disparagements were "insulting." DeCosta's actions speak louder than words. Using his first pick and a valuable mid-round selection on wideouts with polished route-running skills underscored his desire to upgrade the group in the draft.
Last offseason, the storylines revolved around Jackson's efforts to improve as a passer. The season, it's been about the franchise's plans to buffer the QB with as many weapons as possible.
DeCosta swung and missed at bringing in JuJu Smith-Schuster before landing on the former first-round pick Watkins in free agency. He then doubled down in the draft. In his three drafts as general manager, DeCosta has used six selections on wideouts, including first-round picks in Bateman and Brown.
Assets have been sunk in improving the passing game once again. Roman believes this is the year that the Ravens can take advantage of defenses selling out to stop Jackson and the rushing attack.
"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."