Position draft analysis: Wide receivers

Each day leading up to the NFL draft, The Sun will analyze a position on the Ravens and rank its priority:

Wide receivers


Where the Ravens stand now: No position on the Ravens was upgraded more than this one. The Ravens traded for Anquan Boldin, signed Donte' Stallworth and re-signed Derrick Mason. This could be the deepest wide receiver group in team history, but this group might not stay together for the long haul. Mason is 36, and Stallworth is on a one-year deal.

That's why it's reasonable to think the Ravens could take a wide receiver early in the draft if the right one falls to them. If the Ravens did add a wide receiver in the first two rounds, Because of that, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Ravens shop around Mark Clayton for an additional pick.


Wide receivers who could be on the Ravens radar: Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech (first round); Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State (first round); Arrelious Benn, Illinois (second round); Riley Cooper (second or third round), Florida; Mike Williams, ex-Syracuse (third round).

Priority: Moderate. Now that the Ravens have finally put together a solid receiving group with veterans, it would be the perfect time to draft a wide receiver who can come in with no pressure and have time to develop.

Thomas is a question mark for some teams because he broke his foot before the combine and comes from a run-oriented offense. But he would give the Ravens something they don't have -- a big, strong, long-armed receiver. The Ravens are probably thinking hard about Thomas with the 25th overall pick.

Bryant and Williams are two receivers who made pre-draft visits to the Ravens, but they are considered character risks. Bryant, who will likely be taken in the top 20, was suspended for the 2009 season because he lied about his relationship with Deion Sanders (who was under suspicion for recruiting for an agent). Williams was reinstated in 2009 after being academically ineligible for the previous season and then quit the team in November.

Benn, who is now looking more like an early second-round pick, is a physical receiver at 6 feet 1. He has a tough mentality and plays with confidence, breaking tackles for long runs. His value is increased because he can be a returner, too. But Benn isn't fluid and lacks agility.

Cooper, who also made a pre-draft visit to Owings Mills, has great size (6 feet 3) and hands. He shows tremenous toughness in going over the middle. There are two knocks on Cooper: he isn't elusive after the catch and he was Florida's top receiver for just one season. But John Harbaugh must love the fact that Cooper was the gunner on Florida's punt coverage team.

Other top-rated wide receivers in draft: Golden Tate, Notre Dame; Damian Williams, Southern California; Eric Decker, Minnesota; Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati; Andre Roberts, Citadel; Brandon LaFell, LSU.

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