Jump to content
ExtremeRavens: The Sanctuary

Ravens Insider: Ravens’ analytics and belief in Rashod Bateman are why they didn’t take WR early in NFL draft


Recommended Posts

As the clock struck 11 p.m. Friday inside the Ravens’ facility in Owings Mills and the third round of the NFL draft neared its conclusion in Detroit, general manager Eric DeCosta turned in the team’s final selection of the day, pick No. 93 overall. A handful of intriguing wide receivers were still available for the taking.

That list includes Oregon speedster Troy Franklin; Central Florida’s Javon Baker, whom ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller compares with Kansas City Chiefs star Rashee Rice; and towering 6-foot-6 Florida State standout Johnny Wilson.

With Baltimore’s wide receiver group tremendously thin beyond its top three of second-year star Zay Flowers, mercurial Rashod Bateman and solid but unspectacular veteran Nelson Agholor, it’s certainly a position of need.

Instead, the Ravens opted for an outside linebacker from a familiar place, Adisa Isaac out of Penn State.

“What you have to try to do in these situations is look at your needs and who’s the best player available,” DeCosta said. “And then what are your chances of getting a player at these other positions in these coming rounds.”

Indeed, it is a deep class of wide receivers and with fourth-round picks at Nos. 113 and 130 overall, there’s a chance the Ravens could use one of those picks Saturday to potentially nab a receiver good enough to contribute this season. But having also signed Bateman on the eve of the draft to a contract extension through 2026 perhaps also factored into the equation.

“I am extremely excited to watch Rashod this year,” DeCosta said Friday night. “I think his best football is ahead of him. To get him back was kind of a no-brainer.”

It is also something of a risk, albeit a calculated one.

In three seasons since the Ravens drafted Bateman out of Minnesota with the 27th overall pick, the 24-year-old has been fully healthy for just one season, which came last year when he had 32 catches for 367 yards and only one touchdown. That came after a 2022 season in which he suited up for only six games before Lisfranc surgery on his left foot ended his year. The injury is a notoriously unpredictable one, and at one point last spring Bateman thought he was headed for another season-ending procedure.

In his rookie year, groin surgery also caused him to miss the first five games.

There were other things that were off in 2023, too, most notably his connection with quarterback Lamar Jackson. Despite Bateman having one of the best separation rates in the NFL last season, several passes were either off the mark when he was open or went somewhere else entirely.

Still, Bateman’s elite speed, route running and hands — the same elements that made him a tantalizing pick three years ago — are impossible to ignore and difficult to replicate. He also showed an ability to overcome tribulations, on and off the field.

All of which is why the Ravens didn’t bother waiting to decide on his fifth-year option. Just over a week before a May 2 deadline to pick it up or decline it, they instead extended his contract, and that was all that was needed to understand Baltimore’s feelings about its receivers.

Then came another one through the first two days of the draft when they chose Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins, Washington offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten and edge rusher Isaac with their top three picks.

The Ravens could have drafted a receiver, still a position of need. Instead, they doubled down on their belief in Bateman as well as what their analytics told them about what players would be available when.

“It’s something he wanted. It’s something we wanted,” DeCosta said of bringing back Bateman. “I just feel like he’s a really, really talented player who’s had some bad luck with injuries.”

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Create New...