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NFL scouting combine preview: wide receivers

The NFL scouting combine starts Feb. 22. In advance of the annual meat market in Indianapolis, staff writer Matt Vensel will examine each position and give Ravens fans the 4-1-1. In this post he looks at wide receivers.

The top prospects: Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon is the top wide receiver in the draft, and he could go as early as No. 2 overall to the St. Louis Rams, who need help at wide receiver. Blackmon caught 121 passes for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2011. Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd has size (he’s 6-foot-3) and speed. Baylor’s Kendall Wright is a burner. And South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery, who has been linked to the Ravens in mock drafts, could also be a first-round pick, but his 40-yard dash will be scrutinized at the scouting combine.

Other intriguing names: LSU’s Reuben Randle got shut down in the BCS national championship game, but he is 6 feet 4 and could be a nice red-zone weapon. Though he averaged 17.3 yards per catch in 2011, he isn’t a burner. Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller and Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill are 6-foot-4, too, but how well can they run? Mohamed Sanu of Rutgers is 6-foot-2 with above-average speed. Iowa's Marvin McNutt and Wisconsin's Nick Toon were productive college receivers who appear to be mid-round prospects heading into the combine.

Grading the class: In a recent interview with the team's website, Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said that the wide receiver is one of the three best position groups in this year’s draft. Blackmon has been projected to be a top-five draft pick, several receivers could be selected in the first two rounds, and the class has a lot of depth overall, including a bunch of receivers who are six-foot or taller. The wide receiver class gets a B-plus grade.

Fitting the Ravens: General manager Ozzie Newsome stated two weeks ago that the Ravens wanted to address the wide receiver position again this offseason. He didn’t say whether they would do so in the draft or in free agency, but you have to figure the Ravens will draft at least one wide receiver in April -- maybe even one with the No. 29 overall pick. Pairing another speedy receiver with Torrey Smith could really open up their passing attack going forward.

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