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Ravens draft preview: wide receivers and tight ends

Every weekday through April 25, the day before the first round of the NFL draft, The Sun will examine 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/tight ends under contract: Wide receivers - Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams, David Reed, Rodney Bradley, Patrick Williams, Philip Livas. Tight ends – Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, Davon Drew.

Chances that the Ravens draft a wide receiver or tight end in first three rounds: Extremely high for wide receiver, virtually none for tight end. If the right guy is there, say a Stephen Hill or Rueben Randle, the Ravens will seriously consider using their 29th pick on a wide receiver. It’s something they’ve only done twice in franchise history and neither Travis Taylor (10th overall pick in 2000) nor Mark Clayton (22nd overall pick in 2005) lived up to the hype. Offensive line help is clearly the team’s biggest need, but Ozzie Newsome and company may not be able to resist giving quarterback Joe Flacco another weapon in the form of a big and fast outside wide receiver. That would allow offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to move veteran Anquan Boldin into the slot in certain situations with second-year speedster Torrey Smith remaining on the outside. As for tight end, that’s clearly not a need and the draft class at that position is also extremely weak.

Wide receivers possibly on Ravens’ radar: Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech), Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina), A.J. Jenkins (Illinois), Marvin McNutt (Iowa), Brian Quick (Appalachian State), Rueben Randle (LSU), Nelson Rosario (UCLA),  Mohamed Sanu (Rutgers), Tommy Streeter (Miami), Kendall Wright (Baylor)

Outlook: Team officials have been consistent in saying that they need to add another wide receiver. With the free agent market lacking of any good options unless the Ravens want to deal with the baggage that Plaxico Burress and Braylon Edwards bring, the draft may be their last opportunity. Hill, who never had a chance to shine in Georgia’s Tech’s run-oriented offense, has wowed teams with his performance in workouts. He’s 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, and he ran a 4.31 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine. If he’s still available and there’s no certainty of that, he could make the Ravens think long and hard about selecting an offensive lineman at pick 29. The Ravens, however, could just as easily wait and try to grab a guy like Sanu, Jenkins or Quick in the second or third round. While the position seems to be an annual question mark, the Ravens are extremely excited about Smith’s rookie season and they still have high hopes for second-year receivers, Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams. But the reality is they are still missing another young outside option who can hold his own physically and stretch the defense with his speed. If they see that guy available in the draft, they won’t hesitate to select him regardless of the round.    

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