Two of the best teams in the AFC just made a trade with one another that was absolutely brilliant for both teams. The Chiefs, who watched the best quarterback in the NFL run for his life in the Super Bowl, acquired Pro-Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Brown from the Baltimore Ravens. The two teams also swapped a slew of draft picks.
I know: I, too, was told there would be no math as a writer. First, let’s look at the Chiefs side of things — in one offseason, they overhauled their offensive line, which was clearly their top priority. They’ve added former Patriots guard Joe Thuney, they brought Kyle Long out of retirement, and now locked up their left tackle position with Brown. All that, and they will re-add Laurent Duvernay-Tardif into the fold, who opted out last year to work as a doctor in Canada battling COVID. Patrick Mahomes should be very pleased with the protection he will have this season.
Now, to channel Bill Belichick, we’re on to Baltimore. In my opinion, this is where it gets much more interesting. Baltimore has been the most run-heavy offense in the NFL in recent years, led by Lamar Jackson and his back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons… as a quarterback. They averaged 34.6 rushing attempts per game in 2020, far and away more than any other team. They have second-year running back J.K. Dobbins out of Ohio State ready to take on more work, partnered with running mate Gus Edwards. However, if they want to advance in the playoffs, they are going to need their quarterback to do more with his arm.
Jackson is entering his fourth season, and there has been nothing but positive things coming out of Baltimore about him and about their desire to work out a long-term extension. They’ve designed their offense around Jackson, using his rare rushing ability to the fullest while dialing up play-action passes to capitalize on the defenses collapsing to stop the run.
Much like the Buffalo Bills last year, who made a splash trade for Stefon Diggs to give Josh Allen a legitimate weapon to help him grow as a passer, I expect the Ravens to use the same approach in this year’s draft. For Jackson to progress, he needs better weapons.
In trading away Brown, the Ravens added a haul of draft picks. They received the Chiefs’ first, third, fourth, and 2022 fifth round draft picks, meaning they will walk into this draft with the 27th and 31st overall pick, and seven others.
Having one of the best talent-evaluating front offices in the league is going to come in handy with all the toys they’ll have to play with during the draft. In my opinion, you should count on the Ravens drafting a minimum of two wide receivers in their first five picks, one of which coming with one of their first-round options.
At the end of the first round, the Ravens should be looking for a do-it-all wide receiver threat. Someone that can win on the outside, can make contested catches, can line up all over the formation, and make themselves a sure-handed, reliable, and quarterback-happy target. The two names I’ll be watching: Terrace Marshall Jr. out of LSU, and Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota.
Baltimore, with an already-strong defense, and armed with a bevy of draft capital, is positioned perfectly to go all-in while they still have Jackson on his rookie contract for one last season. They’ll be right in the thick of things again this year, and if Jackson is armed with more weapons at the receiver position, Baltimore could make a run at the whole damn thing.