The Baltimore Ravens helped themselves several ways with the free agent signing of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. We’ll see if Maryland sports betting customers agree.
No. 1, at least on paper, the Ravens improved the weakest position on the team. The Ravens didn’t have one wide receiver with more than 500 receiving yards in 2022 and the top TD scorer at the position was Devin Duvernay with three TDs. Tight end Mark Andrews was the most prolific pass catcher with 847 yards and five touchdowns.
Beckham, assuming he can play at close to former levels, elevates the position across the board.
No. 2, the Ravens sent a signal to quarterback Lamar Jackson that they are determined to get him help for an offense that has been inordinately dependent on Jackson. Such a signal is especially important considering Jackson is in the iffy waters of pondering a non-exclusive tag tender offer of $32.4 million.
And No. 3, the Beckham signing gives the Ravens the latitude to draft the best-available player on their draft board rather than being backed into a corner of taking a wide receiver, even if they had to pass up better players at other positions.
Baltimore Ravens Likely Draft Priorities
With that in mind, what becomes the Ravens’ draft priorities now?
That’s a question worth wondering for preseason wagers at Maryland sportsbook apps.
Defending the pass is always a priority in the NFL. That’s accomplished with excellent cornerbacks and a fierce pass rush.
At cornerback, among players that could be available when the Ravens draft at No. 22 in the first round are Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., Maryland’s Deonte Banks and South Carolina’s Cam Smith.
Among edge rushers, there are Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness, Georgia’s Nolan Smith and LSU’s BJ Ojulari.
Obviously, a lot has to do with what happens earlier in the draft. But at this point, Van Ness, Cam Smith and Nolan Smith appear to be prizes if they slip through to the No. 22 slot. Reportedly, Cam Smith was visiting the Ravens early this week.
After The First Round
The Ravens, who have +2500 odds to win the Super Bowl at BetMGM Maryland Sportsbook, do not have a second-round pick. Their third-rounder is No. 86 overall and Baltimore does have selections in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
If they still feel a need to come back for a wide receiver in the third round, the players likely available might include Michigan State’s Jayden Reed and SMU’s Rashee Rice.
Not to be overlooked among the Ravens needs is the offensive line, especially at guard where they lost Ben Powers to Denver in free agency. When Powers was drafted in the fourth round in 2019, his selection was announced by the Ravens’ most famous fan, Mo Gabba.
Gabba, a youngster blind since a baby and battling cancer, read Powers’ draft announcement written in braille. Powers went on to start 36 games for the Ravens and was a highly rated pass blocker in 2022.
The loss of Powers puts offensive line in play for the Ravens as a draft priority.
In the third round, Old Dominion’s Nick Saldiveri, 6-foot-6, 318 pounds, is an O-lineman that could be available. Saldiveri has played tackle but also projects as an OG.
Beckham’s Impact on Ravens Receivers
Baltimore is +270 to win the AFC North and +2000 to win the conference championship at Caesars Maryland Sportsbook.
Regarding how Beckham impacts the wide receiver room, his addition gives the Ravens a three-time Pro Bowl “Z” receiver, meaning a receiver who lines up off the line of scrimmage and can be put in motion. However, his last Pro Bowl season was in 2016 and he didn’t play at all in 2022 as he was recovering from knee surgery.
That puts speedster Duvernay at the “X” receiver as a straight-ahead downfield threat and either Rashod Bateman or free agent pick-up Nelson Agholor in the slot. Bateman was a Ravens No. 1 pick in 2021 and Agholor was a Philadelphia No. 1 in 2015.
Assuming Beckham can regain some of the magic that made him a star with the New York Giants, that makes him a threat from a position where he can be put in motion and make the other wide receivers more effective as beneficiaries of holes created in opposing secondaries.
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