Ravens draft analysis, position by position: Wide receiver

The Baltimore Sun

From now until May 8, the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, The Sun will look at where the Ravens stand at each position, the likelihood that they will address that spot early in the draft and some of the prospects that they may consider.

The Ravens have nine total picks in the three-day draft: one in each of the first, second, fifth and sixth rounds, and two each in the third and fourth rounds.

Today we'll examine wide receiver:

Current wide receivers under contract: Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown, Deonte Thompson, LaQuan Williams, Aaron Mellette, Gerrard Sheppard, Kamar Aiken.

Chances that the Ravens draft a wide receiver in first three rounds: High. It’s not a primary position of need, but the Ravens may not be able to resist dipping in early to one of the best wide receiver draft classes in years. On paper, a top four of Torrey Smith and Steve Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown may comprise the most talented wide receiver group that the Ravens have ever had. But general manager Ozzie Newsome has prioritized adding more offensive weapons for Joe Flacco this offseason. There’s also no shortage of available options. If a receiver the Ravens really like is still on the board at 17, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they used their first-round pick on a receiver for the first time since 2005. But with the amount of quality available, they very well could wait and fill more pressing needs early.     

Possibly on Ravens’ radar: Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State), Martavis Bryant (Clemson), Cody Latimer (Indiana), Marqise Lee (USC), Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)

Outlook: Even if the Ravens don’t draft a pass catcher, they’ll enter training camp feeling pretty good about their receiving corps, thanks to the signing of Steve Smith and the re-signing of Jones. But they also have the future in mind, which is why they’ve been extremely active in doing homework on the available receivers. Steve Smith turns 35 next month and there’s no guarantee he plays more than one season in Baltimore. Torrey Smith is a free agent after the 2014 campaign, though both sides are confident that they’ll reach agreement on a contract extension. Still, the Ravens have struggled in the past to develop wide receivers, so they certainly know how important it is to have depth at the position. The question isn’t whether they will draft a receiver but when. Texas A&M’s Mike Evans would be ideal, but he’ll almost certainly be long gone by the time the Ravens pick. Still, picking 17th, they very well could have their choice of LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr., Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, Lee and Latimer. Guys like Matthews, Benjamin and Bryant could still be available in the middle of the second round. It’s just a matter of who the Ravens feel is the best fit.     

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