Woods one of several intriguing options for Ravens at wide receiver

Robert Woods is one of the less talked about potential first-round options for the Baltimore Ravens at wide receiver, at least from a media standpoint.

And to be fair, Woods didn't have DeAndre Hopkins-like numbers last season. Actually, he didn't even finish as the top receiver on his own team, his role diminishing some at USC as sophomore teammate Marqise Lee emerged as one of the top playmakers in the country.


Woods also has just average size, both in terms of height and muscle, and he's not as explosive of an athlete as fellow top-rated receiver prospects Justin Hunter and Cordarelle Patterson.

What Woods is, though, is a polished receiver with a similar skill set to that of former Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowler Chad Johnson who, while not receiving as much attention this past season, was one of the best pass-catchers in college football the last three years.


The Ravens, of course, are a team with a hole at wide receiver after trading Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers in March and coach John Harbaugh, while expressing confidence in Baltimore's young receivers, said at the NFL's league meetings last month that Baltimore will "probably" add a wide receiver through the draft.

And, if Woods is still available when the Ravens pick with the 32nd selection in the first round, Rob Rang, a senior NFL draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com, says the former USC receiver would "make a lot of sense for Baltimore."

Rang referred to Woods as one of the most pro-ready receivers in this year's draft.

"I think Robert Woods is a terrific football player," Rang said. "I love his versatility. He can play inside and out. I just think he's a guy that gets it and is a guy that's going to be able to compete at a high level."

Once again, Woods doesn't have elite measurables. He has just average size (6-foot, 200 pounds). He's relatively lanky. And he has solid but not elite speed (4.51 40-yard dash) or leaping ability (33.5 inch vertical jump).

But he's a player who earns high praise as a route runner and who, despite not possessing Hunter-like freakish athleticism, was a consistent playmaker at USC - making plays in the short-to-intermediate passing game, stretching the field vertically and even showing the ability, although not to the same level as Tavon Austin by any means, to create yards after the catch.

Woods' numbers dipped some last year as Lee emerged as one of the most dynamic receivers in the country, but he still posted 76 catches for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns and left USC with 252 catches for 2,930 yards and 32 touchdowns during his three years at the school.

He had 65 catches for 792 yards and six scores as a freshman in 2010 and 111 catches for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore.

As a freshman, Woods shredded Stanford for 12 catches, 224 yards and three touchdowns while matched up primarily against cornerback Richard Sherman, then a senior at Stanford and now a Pro Bowler with the Seattle Seahawks.

"Robert is a very polished receiver," said Joe Hortiz, the Ravens' director of college scouting. "He has been doing it for three years out there [at USC]. His first year at USC, I remember him when he wore No. 13 and you are just blown away by this young kid. Then the next year you go back and you see No. 2 playing for USC and you're like, 'God, where'd they get this guy from?' and you realize that it's the same guy. ...

"He has been a talented player. He has been really productive this year. Some of the spotlight was taken off of him by an underclassmen, but, every time he was called upon, he delivered."

But Woods is just one of several receivers that could warrant interest from Baltimore during the early part of the draft.


Austin and Patterson are expected to come off the board before the Ravens pick, but Hopkins is a player who caught 18 touchdowns at Clemson last year, one who some believe has Roddy White-like potential at the NFL level and one who may still be available when the Ravens pick at No. 32.

Allen and Hunter both may be, too.

Allen isn't a burner - and his 40-yard dash time was mediocre (4.71) - but he has decent size (6-foot-2, 206 pounds), runs good routes and is just a solid possession receiver who has drawn comparisons to both Boldin and Green Bay Packers standout Jordy Nelson.

Hunter is kind of a wild-card.

He's considered by many to have as much upside as any receiver in the draft - and he has an extremely intriguing combination of size (6-foot-4, 196 pounds) and athleticism (4.44 40-yard and 39.5 inch vertical jump), but he struggled with drops last season and has just one full season as a starter under his belt.

Baltimore could of course opt to pass on a wide receiver in the first round and just address the position later in the draft, especially with as deep as this year's class of receivers is.

Fifteen wide receivers carry top-three round grades, according to CBSSports.com, including projected second-rounders Terrence Williams (Baylor) and Quinton Patton (Louisiana Tech), both of whom would likely be of interest to the Ravens if they don't take a receiver with their first pick.

"It's pretty solid," Hortiz said of this year's receiver class. "It's probably bigger and thicker in the middle than in years past. There are a couple of top guys, [but] there are guys in each round that can help us. There is a really solid core group of guys in the middle rounds that I think will go in the second or third round that will be solid, dependable starters in the NFL."

Said Rang: "It works out beautifully for Baltimore, and I think it's one of the reasons the team could be as tough as they were with Anquan Boldin, because they've probably had an eye on this draft class and just thinking, 'Hey, there are receivers that we can find that give us a chance to compete.'

"It's a very deep group that sets up very nicely for the Ravens."

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