The Ravens’ insistence on taking the best player rather than targeting their biggest need adds to the shroud of mystery that annually surrounds the organization heading into the NFL draft.
While draft pundits have been consistent in projecting the Ravens to use their 26th overall pick on either a wide receiver or a cornerback, general manager Ozzie Newsome has shown that he’s not afraid to do the unexpected.
It would be foolish to dismiss the possibility that Newsome will use the pick to further bolster a position of perceived strength or even trade it to add to the team’s middle-round draft haul.
Until April 30, the first round of the 2015 NFL draft, The Baltimore Sun will examine the Ravens’ depth at each position, the potential of them adding to that spot early in the draft and some of the players who they could target.
The Ravens will enter the three-day draft with 10 picks: one in each of the first, second, third and sixth rounds, and three each in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Current wide receivers under contract: Steve Smith, Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro, Aldrick Robinson, Jeremy Butler
Chances that the Ravens draft a wide receiver in first three rounds: High. Teams officials have downplayed on a couple of occasions the need to add a receiver early in the draft, and the Ravens haven’t selected a wide receiver in the first five round since 2011.
With the departures of Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones and the fact that Steve Smith will turn 36 next month, the need for another playmaker is obvious.
The Ravens have met with most of the draft’s top receivers and appear poised to select one relatively early. It might not be the first round, but the wait shouldn’t be too long.
Possibly on Ravens’ radar: Dres Anderson (Utah), Phillip Dorsett (Miami), DeVante Parker (Louisville), Breshad Perriman (Central Florida), Jaelen Strong (Arizona State), Devin Smith (Ohio State)
Outlook: The Ravens want to come out of the draft with a burner, a speedy and physical outside receiver who can get behind the secondary and serve as an adequate replacement for Torrey Smith. Smith, Perriman and Dorsett all fit that profile.
Dorial Green-Beckham is another intriguing pass-catching prospect, but a domestic violence incident in his past could take him off the Ravens’ draft board.
It’s a deep draft for wide receivers and team officials have already said there will be a receiver that they’d be comfortable taking in all seven rounds. But can the Ravens really afford for a third straight year to take a wideout in the sixth or seventh round?
That’s doubtful, given that they return just one receiver who had 25 or more receptions last year. The Ravens badly need to develop a young, game-breaking receiver and this would be as good a time as any to start that process.