By Chris Schisler
Tylan Wallace was a steal where the Baltimore Ravens got him in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Ravens took him with the 131st overall pick in the fourth round. While there is a reason for excitement, let’s look at realistic expectations for the rookie from Oklahoma State.
First, we have to look into the situation he’s plopped into.
Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins are known quantities in the NFL. They won’t struggle to find playing time. Rashod Bateman is a first-round pick so the Ravens are going to get him involved to maximize the investment.
Wallace may be joining the team with the lowest passing yards total in the 2021 season, but he’s actually not joining a dehydrated and lifeless receiving group. He’s now in the middle of the pack in a fresh new unit.
Another thing to remember is the rookie tax, John Harbaugh’s favorite way of being wrong. If you’re not a first-round pick, you have to be ready when your name is called and you might be listening for it for a while.
Harbaugh started Orlando Brown Jr. much later in his rookie season than he should have. Ben Powers had to wait well into his second season for a real chance. Devin Duvernay got a little action last season but let’s not pretend like James Proche got a smidge of a chance to shine.
Wallace can play any of the wide receiver positions. Still, you have to think that Brown, Watkins and, Bateman will take the majority of snaps on the outside. The Ravens aren’t typically without a tight end on the field, so Wallace is fighting with Duvernay and Proche (Maybe Miles Boykin) for snaps as a slot receiver.
Tylan Wallace production looks like this:
If the Ravens are looking to keep Duvernay fresh for kick and punt returns, Wallace could see more snaps. It’s not like Duvernay isn’t part of the plan on offense though. If everyone at wide receiver stays healthy, Wallace could struggle to get on the field a lot.
Wallace is probably looking somewhere in the ballpark of Duvernay’s production last season. Wallace getting more than 20 receptions would be a surprise.
Wallace has two positives though. First, he has time to develop. Wallace has a chance to be one of the better players the Ravens have drafted at the position. Secondly, punt return skills could help his cause in 2021. The Ravens want to keep Duvernay on kickoff returns one way or another though.
Remember that the Ravens are stacking the wide receiver position not just for the moment at hand, but for the next handful of years.
The Ravens have two more years out of Marquise Brown should they pick up his fifth-year option. Watkins isn’t a long-term play. The Ravens seemingly get us excited about Miles Boykin every year. Do you really think he’s getting another contract out of the Ravens? I don’t. Bateman and Wallace could be the two main receivers not too far into the future.
The Bottom Line:
All the Ravens need out of Wallace in the 2021 season is to look the part. He needs to make plays when he has a chance. He needs to get us excited for the coming seasons and shat he can deliver.
If every once in a while he makes a contested-catch (His M.O. at Oklahoma State) or scampers down the field after a catch, the lights are on and Wallace is home. That’s all the Ravens need. If they get more in 2021, it will be gravy.
NEXT POST: 2021 Training camp battles for the Ravens
The Ravens should be excited about Wallace. They just aren’t getting a big year from him in his rookie season. Situation more than talent dictates that. Put him down for 20 receptions and somewhere around 300 yards. Put in some touchdowns too. If Jackson found touchdowns for Seth Roberts and Miles Boykin, he will find Wallace some scores too.