So here goes: How are spring OTA and minicamp practices like Christmas morning for an NFL team and its fans?
Because you’re opening shiny new toys, in the form of that year’s rookies, and seeing what you’ve got.
Few things are more exciting than discovering a gift you just received is exactly what you wanted or needed, and the Ravens had plenty to get excited about at their spring practices this year. Several rookies stood out.
Their top draft pick, wide receiver Rashod Bateman, performed with a veteran’s poise and skill. Their other first-round pick, outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, exhibited superior physical tools. Massive Ben Cleveland began competing for the starting job at left guard. Wide receiver Tylan Wallace looked like a fourth-round steal. Outside linebacker Daelin Hayes showed off skills and savvy.
Yes, it was a Christmas-like experience, only with cicadas overhead instead of mistletoe.
You couldn’t watch practice without contemplating how these new players might be able to help the Ravens in 2021.
But you also couldn’t watch without noticing how much the Ravens’ second-year players, their rookies of 2020, had improved after being with the team for a year.
Inside linebacker Patrick Queen was a plug-and-play rookie, but he looked quicker and far surer in pass coverage. Defensive linemen Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington showed off sculpted bodies that reflected a year of NFL-caliber conditioning. Defensive back Khalil Dorsey, a former undrafted rookie, looked like part of…