Draft A Wide Receiver… Where Have We Heard That Before?

| February 29, 2012 | 5 Comments

30,000 People at a Summer Practice

The First in a Series of Offseason Reports on the Ravens

In some cities, football conversation ends when the season ends. While in other cities – like Baltimore – football is discussed 24/7/365 (or 366). With the combine ending and pending free agency looming, football is definitely on the front burner in Charm City.

The Ravens front office is known to be one of the best in football and very few people question any moves that Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and the front office make. Like everyone though, they have “missed” on a few picks in the draft. After spending a week watching college players lift weights, jump and run around in shorts, there is a ton of speculation and intrigue in all 32 NFL cities as to who is likely to end up playing for their team.

There have been a lot players projected to go in the first round to the Ravens, but free agency plays a major role in deciding who the Ravens will draft and what positions they will focus on.  For a team that was a dropped pass away from the Super Bowl there are a lot of question marks and areas for improvement.

Here is my first of many takes on the Ravens offseason priorities, the combine and what players the Ravens should and may target in the draft.

A Big Play Wide Receiver:  

This has been a “need” for the Ravens seemingly for the entire life of the franchise. The Ravens tried, but failed, to address the issue by drafting the likes of Travis Taylor, Mark Clayton, Patrick Johnson and Devard Darling in the early rounds. They also tried to force feed us “diamonds” in the rough like Clarence Moore and Yamon Figurs, none of whom produced anything more than the occasional flash of excitement. All were loads of disappointment.

I know there may be more pressing needs and the Ravens have shown they can win without with an explosive wide out, but if you aren’t going to invest 90 million dollars in your quarterback over the next five to seven years, why not put some weapons around him? One big play receiver is nice, but two is even better. Having a duo like the Steelers have in Wallace and Brown would go a long way in the Ravens not only going to the Super Bowl but also hoisting the trophy.

Ozzie has addressed that this is a need, but given their draft history I do not think it will be addressed in the first round. Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright and Michael Floyd will all likely be gone by the time the Ravens pick in the first round. There is certainly no way they trade up in the first to draft one of them, nor will they likely reach for anyone, but you never know.

One interesting aspect that could change the Ravens thinking would be if the Browns were to draft Robert Griffin III and Kendall Wright or Michael Floyd in round one. If this happens you will have the likes of Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, AJ Green and Wright/Floyd all in the division which could lead the Ravens to try to keep up and draft their own big play receiver.  All in all, I think the Ravens brass know this is an issue. I think there is some depth outside of Blackmon, Floyd and Wright, but if one if those three were to fall to 29 they would be a must take.

Stephen Hill and Rueben Randle give you the height and size combo while Alshon Jeffery and Mohamed Sanu give you a big body with some upside. These names have likely been discussed by the Ravens.  T.Y. Hilton (Florida International) may be the best playmaker in the draft and his ability in the return game and at receiver make him a sleeper that would be worth a look.

I know that everyone who is a football fan wants to draft one of the skill positions and wide receiver is one of those “sexy” positions that fans clamor for the Ravens to draft every year. I am not naive enough to think that the Ravens should draft a receiver just to draft one or that there are other areas that this team could improve, but I truly believe that this division is completely changing its identity (especially if Cleveland drafts Griffin and a first round receiver) into  a pass happy division.  I also know that the AFC Super Bowl representative this season had a less than stellar receiving corp and that the Ravens and Jets have made the AFC Championship the last four seasons, but a big play receiver should still be a high priority for the Ravens.

The old adage that offense wins game and defensive wins championships is certainly a thing of the past in the modern day NFL.  Explosive offense means that your defense can be good, not great, and you still can win a Super Bowl. It’s time to surround Flacco with weapons and, given their salary cap situation, it will be hard to do that in free agency.

One thing I know for sure is that Ozzie is smarter than me and makes more right decisions than wrong ones. Drafting a wideout is the right decision, but there is no telling who the right one is to draft. It should be an interesting debate from now until April 25th.

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About the Author:

I have spent my entire 30 years living in Maryland and I love everything about this city. Despite the bad reputation the city has, Baltimore will always be a special place to me and I love living here. There is nothing better then Sunday afternoons at M&T Bank Stadium and summer nights at Camden Yards when the Yard is packed. You can find me all over the city so don't hesitate to share your opinion of me good or bad. Who knows, if you see me out maybe I will buy you a Natty Boh. Lets go Ravens and Lets go O's!!! Follow me on Twitter at @MRomanell.
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