Mel Kiper’s 1st mock draft has Ravens picking top WR in 2021 NFL draft

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Matthew Stevens
·3 min read
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The Baltimore Ravens once again come into the offseason in need of help at wide receiver. Not only did Baltimore not have enough offensive firepower at times last season, leading to their early exit from the postseason, but the Ravens could also potentially lose Willie Snead in free agency. So with Mel Kiper’s first mock draft, the ESPN draft analyst took care of Baltimore’s biggest offseason need.

Kiper has the Ravens selecting LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. with the No. 27 pick in the 2021 NFL draft. And Kiper’s explanation perfectly fits Baltimore’s woes.

The Ravens’ passing attack did not take a step forward in Lamar Jackson’s second full season as the starting quarterback. Marquise Brown was the only receiver who caught at least 35 passes, and even he was too inconsistent. Baltimore had the fewest passing attempts, passing yards and passing first downs in the league. Adding another top-tier wideout is how it can really take the offense to the next level. Marshall was coming on as LSU’s top wideout this season, and he had 10 touchdowns in seven games before he opted out of the season in November. He has some quickness in a 6-3 frame.

While Brown did step his game up in the final few weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs, he hasn’t been the ultimate answer many were hoping for. Brown’s straight-line speed and open-field quickness make him a real asset but the Ravens need a big-bodied possession receiver capable of moving the chains as well as he can put up touchdowns.

The hope was Miles Boykin would turn into that type of weapon for Baltimore. But Boykin never really fulfilled the role, ultimately seeing the Ravens bring in 37-year-old Dez Bryant to help out. There still should be hope Boykin can make a leap in his third season but the team would be wise not to count on it and, instead, continue to stack talent at arguably their worst position.

Marshall played second fiddle to Justin Jefferson in LSU’s offense in 2019 before getting his crack as the top dog in 2020. With Jefferson’s impressive rookie campaign with the Minnesota Vikings, it’s easy to wonder if Marshall will have a similar entrance to the NFL.

Marshall might not be the fastest guy on the field but he’s fast enough to get behind defenders. He knows how to use his body to guard passes away from defenders and high-point the ball in contested situations. He shows enough polish on his routes to create some separation and has the play-strength to power through would-be tacklers for extra yards. Perhaps more importantly, Marshall is sure-handed and isn’t afraid to make catches in traffic in the middle of the field.

It’s still far too early to know how the 2021 NFL draft will shape up but Kiper’s selection for the Ravens is a good one.