INDIANAPOLIS — The Ravens’ passing offense needs a lot of work this offseason. It needs a quarterback, and Lamar Jackson’s future in Baltimore is uncertain. It needs upgrades at wide receiver, and Rashod Bateman, the most talented in-house option, is seemingly at odds with general manager Eric DeCosta. And it needs big plays, despite the fundamental challenges that first-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken now faces in creating them.
“That’s something that we have not been able to do as much the last couple of years,” coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine. “It’s a big, important part of what we need to do. We need to be able to strike quickly — big plays, vertical completions. That stuff is just massive in what you’re trying to do.”
Over Greg Roman’s four seasons as offensive coordinator, the Ravens’ aerial attack never ranked higher than 16th in the NFL in explosive-play rate (completions of at least 16 yards), according to TruMedia. In Monken’s three seasons at Georgia, the Bulldogs never finished lower than 14th nationally, stressing pass defenses with a mix of deep shots, open-field catch-and-runs and run-pass options.
As the Ravens look to build out their wide receiver room this offseason, they’ll have to be precise with their process. Their salary cap space is limited. So is their draft capital. But the need for playmakers is clear. To get a sense for what three of the draft’s top wide receiver prospects, along with two locals, could bring to Baltimore, The Baltimore Banner asked them for the highlight-reel play from their college career that best exemplifies their NFL potential.
USC’s Jordan Addison
Notable: The Frederick native played in the same youth football league as former Maryland and current Buffalo Bills star wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Addison, who was honored with the Biletnikoff Award as college football’s top wide receiver in 2021, said he models his game after Diggs and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Calvin Ridley. He’s considered a first-round prospect.
Quotable: How does the 6-foot Addison get open so easily? “Well, first, I just look at the defender’s leverage, where they’re leaning to. And I know where I’m going, and they don’t. So I try to paint a picture like I’m going somewhere opposite than where I’m really going.”
Highlight: Before transferring to USC, Addison finished with 14 catches for 202 yards and four touchdowns — all career highs — in a 48-38 win over Virginia that clinched Pittsburgh’s Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title in 2021. On his last score, a 62-yarder with just over two minutes remaining, Addison wrestled a jump ball away from a Cavaliers defender before racing to the end zone to put the game away.
“That just shows a lot of people that, in big-time moments, I’m going to step up to the occasion.”
Boston College’s Zay Flowers
Notable: Flowers has the size of a typical slot receiver (5 feet, 10 inches tall, and 183 pounds), but he lined up as an outside receiver on more than two-thirds of his pass snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus. As a slot receiver, he had 25 catches for 213 yards. As an outside receiver, he had 53 catches for 864 yards. Flowers is considered a possible first-round pick.
Quotable: Flowers, who grew up in South Florida, said teaming with Jackson, a fellow Broward County native, would give an offense “two dynamic players going out there to make plays every game.”
Highlight: In a 41-10 loss to Wake Forest in 2021, Flowers took a reverse, then reversed fields again for a 73-yard touchdown. One problem: “It got called back,” Flowers said. An illegal block wiped out the play.
Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt
Notable: Among wide receivers last year, the 6-foot Hyatt finished tied for sixth in the country in receptions of at least 20 air yards (14 receptions on 24 targets); first in total receiving yards on deep catches (677 yards, or 48.4 yards per reception); and second in deep-catch touchdowns (eight), according to PFF. Hyatt’s considered a first- or second-round prospect.
Quotable: “Coming from my freshman year, I didn’t want to block anybody. I just wanted to catch the ball and run. But playing in the SEC, actually maturing, my junior year, I was actually blocking way better — way better — than my freshman, sophomore year. Because the O-line, they block for me. Running backs block for me, for their [pass] protection. It’s a team sport, and I got to do what I’ve got to do.”
Highlight: Hyatt had six catches for 207 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-49 win over Alabama in October. His fifth score, a game-tying 13-yarder with about three minutes left, was his favorite. “When we called the play, we didn’t have anybody else running routes. It was just a one-man route. If I didn’t win, then ‘Hook’ [quarterback Hendon Hooker] was either going to throw it away or try to run with his legs or do something. And I had a post. ... Just seeing how we was aligned, seeing what he was doing, [by] the time I came off the ball, [I] knew I could score.”
Maryland’s Dontay Demus Jr.
Notable: The 6-foot-4-inch Demus finished last season with just 22 catches for 233 yards and a touchdown. But before he suffered a torn ACL in 2021, he was leading the Big Ten Conference in receiving yards (507 over five games). Demus is considered a Day 3 prospect.
Quotable: Demus said he feels like he’s “back to my old self, before I went down. I’ve been through a lot of rehab and stuff like that, and it’s just got me back to that point.”
Highlight: Demus scored the first touchdown of Maryland’s 2021 season in a 30-24 win over West Virginia. He got behind the Mountaineers’ secondary easily on a play-action drop-back for a 66-yard score.
“I feel like me being considered one of those great deep threats, my touchdown against West Virginia, I feel like that speaks for itself. I’m the type of guy to get into my routes and be able to be smooth and stuff like that. So using my speed to get behind the defenders and really using my length to get down the field is really helpful.”
Maryland’s Rakim Jarrett
Notable: Jarrett said he models his game after former Raven Steve Smith Sr., the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Diontae Johnson and “a little bit” of Diggs. He wore No. 1 at Maryland, following in the footsteps of former Terps star receivers D.J. Moore and Diggs. Jarrett is considered a Day 3 prospect.
Quotable: “I don’t really think I’ve arrived yet. This is just the combine. I think I’m just scratching the surface. So this is just the start of a journey that I have ahead.”
Highlight: As a true freshman in 2020, Jarrett had five catches for a career-high 144 yards in a 35-19 win over Penn State. He scored two touchdowns on identical-looking routes.
“Of course, the famous Penn State game, scoring on the two same plays — that’s probably my favorite moment.”
- Georgia tight end Darnell Washington, a possible first-round prospect, said he grew up a Ravens fan and that his favorite tight end is Mark Andrews.
- Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, a first-round prospect, joked that he started calling himself “Cam Jackson” in the 11th grade, a nod to the dual-threat stars he emulated as a kid: Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson.
- Maryland cornerbacks Tae Banks and Jakorian Bennett posted two of the fastest 40-yard-dash times yet at the combine, posting unofficial times of 4.36 and 4.31 seconds, respectively.