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Johnson is the type of player that gets labeled canâ€™t miss and will invariably be selected not long after Eric DeCostaâ€™s 3:45 AM jog along Padonia Road and certainly way before the Ravens are on the clock.
Dwayne Bowe, 6’2", 221, LSU
Dwayne Bowe is the favorite target of strong-armed Jamarcus Russell. Known for his strength in preventing backs from rerouting, Bowe is at his best working underneath. Best of all, unlike many pros, Bowe is unafraid to work over the middle, takes hits, and break tackles. Downsides include being labeled a long strider, requiring room to build acceleration, and lack of concentration in trying to run before he has secured the ball. Bowe is still quite a talent and can get deep down the field and is a very effective blocker in the running game. The polish of the receiver is further evidenced by his solid head fakes, cuts, and other moves down the field.
RAVENS OUTLOOK: Depending on the valuations other teams place on the available wide receivers, Bowe may also be available for the Ravens at the 29th selection. With wide receiver seemingly in good shape, it might be hard to justify Bowe, over other potentially available receivers or high caliber offensive linemen such as Ben Grubbs, Ryan Kalil, or possibly even Joe Staley should he fall down the board.
Jarrett is falling down draft boards due to an amazing lack of foot speed and comparisons to the size and work ethic of former USC star Mike Williams. Despite this inability to get down the field quickly, Jarrett has good hands and is very aggressive in going after the ball. The lack of speed is compensated for by this aggression and ability to quickly identify the ball trajectory and settle in under the ball using his impressive size and leaping ability to wall off defenders and make plays. Add it all up and what you get is something other than a No. 1 receiver.
RAVENS OUTLOOK: After the repeated failures to turn in a solid 40 yard dash, Jarrett has tumbled down mock draft boards. There is a decent chance Jarrett will be available for the Ravens at 29. If he is the Ravens will likely take a pass.
After injuring his ankle in the national championship game, the entire country wonders what is going on with Ted Ginn. A national champion hurdler in high school who gave up a chance to train for the Olympics, Ginn has that type of world class speed which was quickly demonstrated at Ohio State. Rarely has a receiver been seen at major programs who is able to literally outrun the pursuit angles of the entire defense, but Ginn is that player. Granted, this speed leaves Ginn deficient in other areas such as route running or strength in breaking the press or blocking for the running game. Even so, the ability to get down the field so quickly opened up the field for the other OSU receivers leading to one of the most effective passing games in Ohio State history. Furthermore, Ginn is very talented in the return game as well, torching Florida for a return in the national championship game.
RAVENS OUTLOOK: With Ginn still recovering from an ankle injury, many fans appear to be writing off his speed. Scouts certainly know better, but there have been a few whispers about Ginn potentially falling down to the Ravens. That seems like a nice tidbit of liarâ€™s poker as New England would certainly take a talent like Ginn even with a massively revamped receiving corps. Certainly at 29, Ginn would be too much for a team to pass up and the Ravens recently whispered to the media that if Ginn fell to 29, the Ravens would stop that fall.
Meacham is the best player the Volunteers have had at the wide receiver position in over a decade. Reminding many of a faster Anquan Bolden, Meacham seems to find the ball at the right time and create a big gain after what might typically be a routine catch. Having the increased speed compared to Bolden helps as well, allowing Meacham the ability to quickly attack the secondary and create plays down the field. On the downside, Meacham was handled fairly well by Chris Houston of Arkansas, recording only two catches though one was good for a touchdown against the Razorbacks. He has struggled at times to identify the flight path of the ball.
RAVENS OUTLOOK: Meacham will likely go well before the Ravens have a chance to consider his merits on draft day. If he is available there might be some debate as to his advantages over the other wide receivers that may be available or the status of other worthy players that might have caused his fall to the end of the first round.
Sidney Rice, 6’4", 200, South Carolina
Rice is the latest receiver out of the Steve Spurrier fun â€˜nâ€™ gun offense. Unfortunately, players out of the Spurrier offense have been mediocre NFL receivers at best, and Rice seems to be headed in that direction after supposed sub-par workouts. Even so, Rice has rare hands and seems to be able to catch everything thrown his way, no matter how ugly the throw. Of course Baltimore fans remember a Spurrier wide receiver that received the same accolades and then proceeded to make all of the difficult plays and seemingly drop every easy catch. Negatives focus on the inability to get under the football and being unable to win fights for the ball despite a 35â€ vertical and a 6â€™4â€ frame. Also, like most tall receivers, he seems to have issues with short routes.
RAVENS OUTLOOK: Given the past experiences with stars out of the Steve Spurrier program, the Ravens may shy away from Rice. Further, player comparisons point to the positive flashes of current Raven Demetrius Williams. Also, at the moment, Rice seems to be sliding out of the first round due to a disappointing offseason and he has been replaced in many ranking systems by Anthony Gonzalez as the most borderline first round wide receiver.
Gonzalez is the lesser known member of the Ohio State passing game, being overshadowed by the numbers of Troy Smith and the speed of Ted Ginn. What is lost in the translation is that Gonzalez is a very polished receiver who was frequently the target of Smith when the Buckeyes needed a first down or a solid play. Running underneath Ginn had many labeling the receiver as a number two until Gonzalez lit up the track running under a 4.3 at the Ohio State campus. With solid hands and good cuts, Gonzalez will at worst be a solid possession receiver. Many often call into question his lack of ability to attack a deep zone or to get up the field and why his workout numbers donâ€™t seem to translate into shiftiness on the field. That might be valid criticism, but the job of getting deep and opening up the field for underneath routes was Ted Ginnâ€™s job. Gonzalez then ran all of the underneath routes. If he can improve on his ability to get off the line and to increase his strength in the run blocking game, Gonzalez could really be special.
RAVENS OUTLOOK: Gonzalez is a borderline first round talent and most likely will be around for the Ravens at number 29. This might present a tough decision for the personnel staff, but that depends on the other talent available. Gonzalez could be a good value if the Ravens plan on running many three wide receiver sets in the future or are worried about the development of a young receiver to play opposite Mark Clayton.