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Perriman, Williams give Flacco some new weapons

When a team invests a lot of money in a quarterback like the Ravens did with Joe Flacco nearly two years ago, they are obligated to get him weapons. The Ravens have accomplished that in the first two rounds of the 2015 NFL draft.

The Ravens chose Central Florida receiver Breshad Perriman with the No. 26 overall pick in the first round and then moved up three spots in the second round to select Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams with the No. 55 overall selection.

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The choice of Perriman seemed like a reactionary move more than anything else. The Ravens would have you believe he was the best player available on their draft board, and maybe he was.

But this much can't be denied: With Alabama's Amari Cooper, West Virginia's Kevin White and Louisville's DeVante Parker already taken, Perriman was the most logical choice to solve one of the team's top needs.

Three of the nation's top cornerbacks — Michigan's State's Trae Waynes, Washington's Marcus Peters and Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson — were also gone, so the Ravens made the best of the situation. They really weren't ecstatic about Perriman, but certainly felt comfortable.

"He brings an element to our offense that plays into Joe [Flacco]'s strengths and that he can be a vertical threat, but he also has the ability to run the full route tree," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We're just happy to have him."

I would have been bolder and traded up, like Denver, to nab a top pass rusher like Missouri's Shane Ray at No. 23 or traded down to gain more picks, but that was too much of a gamble for the Ravens, especially with Ray's foot injury and his latest marijuana possession charge.

The Ravens went safe and filled a need, but they are also still gambling. It's great to get a speed guy like Perriman who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.25 seconds, and he will open up opposing defenses for a team loaded with possession receivers like Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown.

But those passes he dropped at Central Florida scare me. The Ravens like to note that Perriman's father, Brett, played receiver in the NFL for 10 years and that Breshad Perriman has been around Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin, but that bugs me even more.

Why does he still have trouble catching the darn ball? With that type of pedigree, he should be snagging everything. Instead, both Perriman and the Ravens are calling his dropped passes a focus issue.

"I think he does have some room to grow, and that's great for us," said Ravens receivers coach Bobby Engram. "But we talked about just transitioning in and out of breaks, making sure he's coming off the ball. As young receivers coming into this league, you always have to continue to work your craft in terms of working releases. Breshad has plenty of quicks for his size. We just have to get him working his hands a little better. But those are the things you get excited about, because that's what can make a really good player great."

The Ravens have been through this before. In 1996, receiver Michael Jackson had talent but also problems with hand placement. Former Ravens receiver Torrey Smith was a speedster who dropped passes and had problems going up and grabbing passes.

At 6 feet 2 and 212 pounds, Perriman isn't as tall as Jackson but is bigger than Smith. By the end of his first season in Baltimore, Jackson could run every route on the passing tree effectively while Smith was basically a speed guy who was only successful running go and slant-in routes.

Perriman is explosive off the line of scrimmage and accelerates to full speed quickly. He has good flexibility and body control and certainly is capable of making acrobatic catches or turning short gains into long touchdown receptions.

But he still needs to become a better route runner. There were some who thought Perriman was more of a second-round receiver, but he'll have to play immediately in Baltimore.

The best thing about Perriman is that you have to respect his speed. It's the most important ingredient that the Ravens offense lacked after the departure of Smith and Jacoby Jones.

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The Ravens also drafted him because of his upside.

"They told me for the most part I'd just be doing what every other receiver does — stretching the field vertically," Perriman said. "No matter what it is, really, whatever they want me to do, I'm willing to do it 100 percent, whether it's [to] be a decoy man and just run defenders out to get Steve Smith open, whatever I have to do, I'm going to do it 100 percent and hopefully get the job done."

"I would like to come in, establish myself and produce," Perriman said. "Whether if it's a No. 1 [receiver], No. 2 or No. 3, no matter where it is on the depth chart, I want to come in and produce some way, somehow."

The Ravens aren't going to ask too much of Perriman. They know they got a project near the end of the first round. He wasn't the best of the best, but definitely the fastest of the top receivers left on the board when they picked.

Williams was rated the top tight end in the draft by almost every draft publication and expert in the country. Before he left to become Denver's new head coach, former Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak told Newsome he wanted a big, fast receiver and tight end. Kubiak's gone, but Williams completes the wish list.

He is big, strong, athletic and can play inside or in the slot. He needs to improve his run blocking, but so do a lot of rookie tight ends. Williams can't stretch the field like Seattle's Jimmy Graham, but he gives the Ravens another weapon inside the red zone and a replacement if Dennis Pitta doesn't fully recover from his second hip injury.

After bolstering their offense, the Ravens took Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis in the third round, which is not unusual for Newsome, who believes a team can't have enough defensive linemen.

Davis is big, has a strong upper body and can handle double teams but sometimes works high and has problems with leverage. But with the Ravens trading Pro Bowl tackle Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions, Davis will give the Ravens depth and might work into the five-to-six-man rotation.

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