Ravens draft preview: Wide receivers and tight ends

Each weekday through April 24, the day before the first round of the NFL draft, The Sun will look at where the Ravens stand at each position, the likelihood that they will address that spot early in the draft and some of the prospects that they may consider.

Today we’ll examine wide receivers and tight ends:

Current wide receivers under contract: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams, David Reed, Deonte Thompson, Tommy Streeter, Tori Gurley

Current tight ends under contract: Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Alex Silvestro, Steve Watson

Chances that the Ravens draft a WR or TE in first three rounds: Good chance for wide receiver, unlikely for tight end. The trade of veteran slot man Anquan Boldin created a big hole within the Ravens’ receiving corps and they opted not to fill it in free agency. It’s not a matter of if they pick a wide receiver in the draft, but when. Some draft gurus have speculated that the Ravens could even go wide receiver in the first round, though they probably have more pressing needs, like at left tackle, middle linebacker and safety.  As for tight end, Ravens coach John Harbaugh has said that the team plans to draft one. But it’s a relatively deep tight end class so the Ravens could look to grab one in the mid to later rounds.

Possibly on Ravens’ radar: Wide receivers – Keenan Allen (California), DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson), Justin Hunter (Tennessee), Quinton Patton (Louisiana Tech), Robert Woods (USC); Tight ends – Matt Furstenburg (Maryland), Travis Kelce (Cincinnati), Ryan Otten (San Jose State), Chris Pantale (Boston College), Jordan Reed (Florida)   

Outlook: While Harbaugh believes some of his younger receivers like Doss and Thompson are ready to step into bigger roles, the Ravens will be looking to come out of the draft with another target for quarterback Joe Flacco. With speed guys on the outside in Smith and Jones, the ideal fit would be a receiver who could work underneath and make the tough catches in traffic. Hopkins would certainly fit the mold and the Ravens have hosted him on a visit to their team facility. It’s not an incredibly deep wide receiver draft, but there should be enough available for the Ravens to upgrade at the position. There will probably be a run at wide receiver on Day Two of the draft, meaning the Ravens may have to strike for a pass catcher in the second or third round. It is a really strong draft for tight ends and the Ravens should benefit. It will be an investment for their future because both Pitta and Dickson could hit free agency following the 2013-14 season.

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