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10 prospects the Ravens could target on Day 3 of the 2021 NFL draft

by DrewLUD


Day 2 of the NFL draft could have been a restless night for Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta. He had no second-round picks, two late-third-rounders and little incentive to sacrifice draft capital to move up.

But as Ravens officials spent their Friday night watching the class’ top remaining prospects head elsewhere, DeCosta reassured himself that a few players the Ravens prioritized would eventually fall to them.

By the time the Ravens’ first pick of the night arrived at No. 94, they were able to pick up Georgia’s Ben Cleveland, a guard whom coach John Harbaugh coveted so much, he’d pleaded with DeCosta to move up. Ten picks later, the team rounded out its second night by picking Southern Methodist cornerback Brandon Stephens, a converted running back who could play safety at the next level.

As the Ravens head into the final four rounds of the draft, they’ve addressed three of their top offseason needs: wide receiver, edge rusher and interior offensive line. The team could still use a right tackle, and after a run of offensive tackles on Day 2, most of the players still available are considered developmental prospects. The Ravens could also be in the market for a playmaking safety, along with depth along the defensive line, at tight end and on special teams.

DeCosta still has five picks left: two in the fourth (Nos. 131 and 136 overall), two in the fifth (Nos. 171 and 184) and one in the sixth (No. 210). After deciding not to trade on the first two nights, he could feel compelled to package a few of his picks to target a coveted player. Or he could trade back and amass even more picks for the 2022 draft, which is expected to be deeper and better scouted.

However the Ravens proceed, here are 10 players they could target on Day 3 of the draft.

The former Terp caught scouts’ attention with a standout pro-day performance in which he showcased his top-notch athleticism, even after suffering two ACL tears during his college career. In his lone season as the lead back for Maryland, Funk led the Big Ten Conference in yards per carry (8.6) and ranked second in rushing yards per game. During the Ravens’ predraft news conference, director of player personnel Joe Hortiz praised Funk’s ability to play special teams, often a deciding factor for Day 3 selections.

Tony Poljan, TE, Virginia

Poljan has only two years of experience at tight end — he’s a converted quarterback who spent his first two seasons at Central Michigan. He wouldn’t be considered a dynamic pass-catching option, but at 6 feet 7 and 251 pounds, he can hold his own as a run blocker. Considering Nick Boyle’s importance to the running game and the void he left after suffering a season-ending knee injury, the Ravens can never have too many capable blockers in coordinator Greg Roman’s offense.

Drake Jackson, C, Kentucky

The Ravens already addressed the interior offensive line by taking Cleveland, a selection that could move Bradley Bozeman back to his natural center position. But Bozeman’s entering the final year of his rookie contract, and Jackson’s a true center prospect with three years of starting experience. He has a strong upper body and moves well, but at 6-2 and 293 pounds, he could be a liability against some of the NFL’s more stout nose tackles.

Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida

At a well-built 6-8 and 307 pounds, and blessed with 34-inch arms, Forsythe is a gifted pass protector who uses his length and fluidity to contain edge rushers. He has experience at left tackle (25 starts) and also right tackle (three starts), where the Ravens are looking to replace Orlando Brown Jr. Forsythe’s run blocking is another story, however. He regularly struggles to sink low enough to win the battle for leverage and dislodge defenders. He allowed two sacks and six quarterback hits in 513 pass-blocking snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Jackson made 42 career starts over three years at left tackle and projects as a potential swing tackle or guard in Baltimore. He helped his draft stock by adapting a vegan diet before last season and reshaping his body, and his movement skills and run-blocking ability would mesh well with the Ravens’ offensive philosophy. Jackson’s hands and footwork can get him in trouble, and he might struggle against strength and length early in his NFL career. Jackson allowed two sacks, five quarterback hits and six hurries in 280 pass-blocking snaps for the Hawkeyes last season, according to PFF.

Shelvin’s 2019 season gave teams a lot to like, but there’s not a lot else out there. He redshirted as a true freshman, played in only six games in 2018 as he battled weight and discipline issues, and opted out of the 2020 season. As a 6-2, 350-pound nose tackle, though, he’s hard to move. Shelvin can occupy double teams with his massive frame and sturdy anchor strength. When he plays with good leverage, he can uproot linemen and get good push. With 32-year-old Brandon Williams entering the last year of his deal, the Ravens might be looking for their next hulking interior presence. Shelvin would be a good option — just don’t expect much pass-rush production.

Jonathan Marshall, DL, Arkansas

Marshall has a promising skill set for an interior pass rusher and plays explosively for someone of his size (6-3, 310 pounds). He finished with a sack, nine quarterback hits and 19 hurries in 10 games last season, his first as a full-time starter, according to PFF. Marshall’s play strength flashed on film, but he wore down late in games. He played most of last season as a nose tackle, but he might project better as a three-technique lineman, aligned over the opposing guard’s outside shoulder. The Ravens don’t need an instant-impact rookie at the position, and Marshall could be a solid developmental prospect as a potential overhaul looms.

Shaka Toney, OLB, Penn State

Toney doesn’t have the all-world athleticism of his former Nittany Lions teammate Odafe Oweh, but he could find a home in Baltimore as a designated pass rusher. He led Penn State with five sacks in nine games last season and had 20-plus pressures in four straight seasons, according to PFF, though he was never dominant. Toney tested well at the school’s pro day, running an unofficial 4.53-second 40-yard dash, posting an elite broad-jump mark and impressing in agility drills. At 6-2, 242 pounds, he doesn’t have great play strength, but he compensates with his sudden get-off and change of direction.

Shakur Brown, CB, Michigan State

Brown is still raw — he made only 12 career starts over three seasons — but has experience in the slot, logging 114 snaps there in 2020, according to PFF. He recorded five interceptions in seven games this past season, tied for third most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Brown is undersized at 5-10 and 185 pounds, but he’s instinctive and plays with aggression. He could serve as reinforcements for the often-injured Tavon Young.

Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State

Nasirildeen is built more like a linebacker at 6-3 and 215 pounds, but he lined up all over Florida State’s defense. He was voted second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference in 2019, when he tore his ACL in the second-to-last game of the season, forcing him to miss all but two games in 2020. Nasirildeen is a sound tackler but not as comfortable playing in coverage as he is in the box. He could thrive in some nickel and dime packages, even if he might not fit the mold of the playmaking safety the Ravens need at the back end of their secondary.


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Source: Baltimore Sun