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OWINGS MILLS — Thereâ€™s at least one intriguing scenario that the Baltimore Ravens could be faced with during this weekendâ€™s NFL draft.
What if Ohio State star wide receiver Ted Ginn plummeted all the way down to the Ravensâ€™ 29th overall pick of the first round?
Itâ€™s not as farfetched as it might sound. Despite glittery past impressions from the Buckeyesâ€™ All-American, his stock has been on a downward spiral ever since he injured his foot celebrating a touchdown in the BCS national title game.
Ginn still hasnâ€™t fully recovered and struggled at a recent campus workout, falling down during five of his six pass routes before the session was halted. He reportedly covered 40 yards between 4.38 and 4.42 seconds, off his previous-best of 4.35.
While Ginn has drawn criticism for being fragile and a tad one-dimensional, you canâ€™t teach his world-class speed. It’s unlikely that his game-breaking potential could make the Ravens ignore more pressing needs like their offensive line, but it would be a tough call at that stage of the first round.
It’s more likely that they would draft a fast receiver at some point during the second day of the draft.
â€œIf you want a definition of a speed receiver, watch Ted Ginn,â€ Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said. â€œAnytime you get a guy who can run by people and score touchdowns, I think teams would want that kind of guy. There are probably seven or eight receivers who can be taken in the first round or definitely early in the second round, and each of those receivers is pretty talented.â€
Although the Ravens are well-stocked at receiver with Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams, they lack depth and a consistently dangerous deep threat. Plus, Mason, 34, has repeatedly complained about his scaled-back role. Speculation has him on the trading block even though the Ravens have said he remains in their plans. Reserves Clarence Moore and Devard Darling havenâ€™t been productive at all.
Meanwhile, return specialist B.J. Sams is still rehabbing a fractured ankle that required surgery and will likely keep him out until training camp. He also faces his second DUI charge in court next month.
If the Ravens have the opportunity to draft a fast wide receiver with return skills or potential, it could be a tempting proposition.
They had at least two candidates that fit that description in for visits: Washington Stateâ€™s Jason Hill, a 6-foot, 204-pounder with 4.32 speed, and Kansas Stateâ€™s Yamon Figurs, the fastest prospect at the scouting combine with a 4.29 clocking.
Hill battled injuries as a senior, but caught 62 passes for 1,097 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. Figurs averaged 14.7 yards per punt return last year, returning two for scores.
Jacoby Jones, an imposing sleeper from Division II Lane College (Tenn.), has been called this yearâ€™s Marques Colston. Ravens receivers coach Mike Johnson attended his campus workout.
â€œJones is an excellent return man with a lot of upside potential,â€ DeCosta said regarding a player who ran back three kicks for touchdowns last season and caught 200 career passes for 2,750 yards and 21 touchdowns after transferring from Southeastern Louisiana where he originally enrolled on a track scholarship.
DeCosta also praised UTEP return specialist Johnnie Lee Higgins, who caught 82 passes for 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns last season while averaging 23.4 yards per punt return with two returned for scores, along with accomplished Michigan return man Steve Breaston.
â€œBoth of those guys are very dangerous,â€ DeCosta said. â€œYou always have to be aware of what they can do in the open field.â€
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland