The Baltimore Ravens may have “crushed yet another draft class,” says Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report, but they didn’t draft any wide receivers, at least in part because an AFC North division rival took a wideout they targeted one pick before the Ravens would have drafted Calvin Austin III No. 139 overall.
But the Ravens did sign a half-dozen wide receivers after the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft, hoping one of more of them can contribute in 2022 — and beyond.
“Of the six, Makai Polk comes with the best pedigree,” offers Sobleski, noting that the 6-foot-3, 197-pounder out of Mississippi State “finished second in the nation last season with 105 catches,” good for 1,046 yards and nine touchdown receptions against top competition in the SEC.
Makai (pronounced muh-KY) Polk doesn’t lack for confidence, either.
“I know I’m the best (wide) receiver in this draft,” Polk told reporters in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine back in March.
NFL teams didn’t agree, no doubt influenced by the fact that Polk ran a a middling 4.59 40-yard dash and managed a mere 31-inch vertical at the Combine.
‘Upside Talent … Could Foreshadow More to Come’: NFL Analyst
But some analysts believed he showed enough to get drafted, including Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, who projected him to get selected in the fifth- or sixth-round.
Zierlein has described Polk as “very instinctive and natural for the position,” and said he offers “upside talent with good length and impressive ball skills that could foreshadow more to come.”
On the other hand, “deciphering Polk’s single season of production inside Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense will take work,” said the NFL draft analyst. “He’s not a great separator underneath and is unlikely to scare anyone with his deep speed. It’s easy to spot his high football IQ and impressive ball skills throughout the tape, but he needs additional play strength and razor-sharp route running to counteract his lack of explosiveness.
Zeirlein also questions why Polk had just a single season of strong production, having contributed just 36 receptions for 478 yards and three touchdowns in 17 games with the California Golden Bears before transferring to Mississippi State. He also references the opinion of an unnamed area scout for an AFC team, who said, “(Polk) got a ton of targets in that offense but it’s like the same three routes over and over so he’s still got a lot of learning to do.”
The Ravens Added One Other SEC Receiver as an UDFA
Of course, Polk will have a good opportunity to show what he can do in Baltimore, especially in light of Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown having been traded to the Arizona Cardinals on Day 1 of the draft.
The other rookie undrafted free agent wide receivers signed by the Ravens are in much the same boat. They are:
Slade Bolden (Alabama)
Shemar Bridges (Fort Valley State)
Trevon Clark (California)
Raleigh Webb (The Citadel)
Devon Williams (Oregon)
By the way, if Polk had been selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, he would have been the first Mississippi State wideout to be drafted since Eric Moulds was chosen No. 24 overall by the Buffalo Bills in 1996.
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