Friday, May 13, 2022

Self-proclaimed “Best Receiver” in this class named Ravens’ UDFA to Watch

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The Baltimore Ravens may have “destroyed another draft class,” says Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski, but they didn’t draft wide receivers, at least in part because an AFC North Division rival made a wideout that gave them a pick ahead of the Ravens envisaged would have drafted Calvin Austin III No. 139 altogether.

But the Ravens signed one half a dozen wide receivers upon completion of the 2022 NFL draft in hopes that one or more of them can contribute in 2022 — and beyond.

“Of the six, Makai Polk has the best pedigree,” says Sobleski, noting that the 6ft 3, 197-pounder from Mississippi State “finished second in the nation with 105 catches last season,” good for 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns -Receipts against the top competition in the SEC.

Makai (pronounced muh-KY) Polk isn’t lacking in confidence either.

“I know I’m the best (wide) receiver this draft,” Polk told reporters in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine in March.

The NFL teams disagreed, no doubt influenced by the fact that Polk ran a mediocre 4.59 40-yard dash and only managed 31-inch verticals on the combine.

However, some analysts believed he had shown enough to be drafted, including NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, who predicted he would be selected in the fifth or sixth round.

Zierlein has described Polk as “very instinctive and natural for the position” and said he offers “an upward talent with good depth and impressive ball ability that could come up for more.”

On the other hand, “it will take work to decipher Polk’s only producing season in Mike Leach’s passing offense,” the NFL draft analyst said. “He’s not a great separator underneath and probably won’t scare anyone with his high speed. His high footballing IQ and impressive ball skills are easy to spot across the board, but he needs extra skill and razor-sharp distance running to counter his lack of explosiveness.

Zeirlein also wonders why Polk only had a single season of strong production after contributing just 36 receptions for 478 yards and three touchdowns in 17 games with the California Golden Bears before moving to Mississippi State. He also references the opinion of an unnamed area scout of an AFC team, who said, “[Polk]hit a lot of targets on this offense, but it’s the same three routes over and over again, so he still has a lot to learn.”

Of course, Polk will have a good opportunity to show what he can do in Baltimore, especially given that Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was traded to the Arizona Cardinals on day one of the draft.

The other rookie undrafted free agent wide receivers signed by the Ravens are essentially in the same boat. They are:

Slade Bolden (Alabama)
Shemar Bridges (Fort Valley State)
Trevon Clark (California)
Raleigh Webb (The Citadel)
Devon Williams (Oregon)

Incidentally, if Polk had been selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, he would have been Mississippi State’s first wideout to be drafted since Eric Molds was selected No. 24 overall by the Buffalo Bills in 1996.

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