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Preston: Newsome's weakness at drafting wide receivers catches up to Ravens

Ravens wide receiver Chris Moore talks about the pass that bounced off his chest and led to a touchdown by the Bears. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)

The biggest weakness on Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome's draft record became more glaring Sunday.

Since the Ravens moved from Cleveland to Baltimore for the 1996 season, they have failed to draft quality receivers and it showed Sunday in the Ravens' 27-24 overtime loss to the Bears.

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The Ravens were without starting receiver Jeremy Maclin (shoulder injury) against Chicago, and this was the perfect time for receivers Breshad Perriman, Chris Moore, Michael Campanaro and Chris Matthews, and tight end Maxx Williams, to step up.

Instead, they were members of the brick hands club. Clank, clank, drop, drop. They were either dropping passes that resulted in stopping drives or leading to Chicago touchdowns. On one occasion the Ravens might have scored if Matthews hadn't tripped over his own feet in the end zone near the end of the first half.

Here's the worst part: Perriman was the team's top draft pick three years ago. Williams was selected in the second round of the same draft. Moore was a fourth-round pick in 2016, while Campanaro was taken in the seventh round in 2014.

"Yes, I don't really want to get into what's disappointing and what's not disappointing," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "You want to see guys step up and play well. You want to see guys make plays. Offensively, we want to score points and we want first downs. That's what we're shooting for and that's what we're working for. We're certainly capable of it. We need to get it going."

When?

Williams can't stay healthy and fumbled after a catch that stopped a Ravens' drive at the Bears' 20-yard line midway during the second quarter. Perriman still can't catch consistently. He dropped a very catchable 36-yard pass down the ride sideline with about three minutes left in the second period that led to a Chicago touchdown two plays later.

Wasn't Williams supposed to be the big target over the middle who could still challenge safeties deep? And wasn't Perriman going to provide the Ravens with a deep vertical threat?

We're still waiting. ... Neither will likely go into the Ravens' Ring of Honor.

The Ravens have had problems developing receivers. Other disappointments in the first round were Mark Clayton in 2005 and Travis Taylor in 2000. But they just don't get it wrong in the first round.

Remember Patrick Johnson? He was the team's second-round pick out of Oregon in 1998. Like Perriman, he was going to be coach Brian Billick's big-time deep threat. It never happened.

We've been hearing about the speed of Moore for two years now but Chicago safety Adrian Amos showed better hands when he caught a pass that ricocheted off Moore's chest and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Campanaro also dropped an important third-down pass, but at least he made up for it with a 77-yard touchdown on a punt return late in the game. After three years of spending more time in the training room than on the field he now has an upside.

But that's not the case with Perriman, Williams or Moore. Actually, the Ravens weren't impressive on the defensive side of the ball Sunday, either. Young defensive linemen like Bronson Kaufusi (third round, 2016), Chris Wormley (third round, 2017) and William Henry (fourth round, 2016) performed well in training camp, but got pushed around Sunday as the Bears ran for 231 yards.

It was basically the same counter play that Pittsburgh ran several weeks ago that did most of the damage. Another second-round pick, second-year linebacker Kamalei Correa, hasn't played well, either.

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"We've just got to focus in," Campanaro said of the dropped passes. "That's just repetition, that's practice. I mean, we catch passes every day in practice. It's just got to translate over to the game. Those are plays as receivers we can't have, we can't make."

Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg deserves some blame for this poor offensive showing. It appears that the strong effort against Oakland last week was more of an aberration than a breakout game.

On Sunday, with 7:04 left in overtime, the Ravens needed about 20 yards to get kicker Justin Tucker into position to win the game. But they managed just eight yards and two of the three plays were runs.

Those possessions are disturbing. The loss against Chicago is the type of game the Ravens look back on at the end of the season and say this is the game that cost us the playoffs.

The Bears were coming off a loss against Minnesota on Monday night and starting a rookie quarterback with a short week to prepare. A Ravens win should have been as certain as death and taxes.

Instead, it is re-opening questions about Newsome's major shortcoming. He can sign good free-agent receivers but he can't draft any. The evidence was overwhelming again Sunday.

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