It was clear the Ravens needed to take a wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft and at No. 27 and 31 overall, there was a chance most of the top pass catchers in the draft would be off the board by the time Baltimore was on the clock.
Fortunately for the Ravens, Minnesota's Rashod Bateman, the consensus No. 4 receiver in his class, was available at No. 27. By adding Bateman to a wide receiver room that includes Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins, offensive coordinator Greg Roman is looking forward to putting together a more balanced attack.
"I really feel good about the guys we have," Roman told reporters Friday. "This offense is one that runs through Lamar [Jackson] and when you add talent like that, it's really going to expand our profile quite a bit, to play with the kind of balance that we really want to play with.
"The field is about 53 yards wide and I think people are going to have to defend all 53 yards of it," he said.
The Ravens have boasted the most prolific rushing attack in the NFL over the past two years, but their inability to test defenses downfield in the passing game has kept them from having the same success in the playoffs that they do in the regular season.
Bateman should be able to help right away, but in an ideal world, he develops into a player quarterback Lamar Jackson can rely on for steady production as a No. 1 receiver. The good news there is Bateman is confident in his ability to get there.
"I know I can be a No. 1 wide receiver," Bateman said. "That's everyone's job is to be a No. 1 wide receiver. But I'm here to be the best teammate I can be with this team, so I'm just excited to get to work with these guys and help these guys out in any way possible. The goal is to chase a Super Bowl and whatever my role is, that's what I'm excited to do."
For now, it sounds like that role will look different week to week. Bateman played primarily on the outside in college but displayed an ability to excel in the slot. Roman plans to use his new weapon all over the place at the start of the season.
"I think he brings a style that is really going to complement the guys that are here right now," Roman said. "I think to categorize him as an X or a Z an outside receiver vs. an inside receiver is a bit short-sighted. We're gonna teach the system, he's gonna be able to play inside and out for us."