Now that a deal has been done, and Joe Flacco is officially the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history, it is time to bolster the weapons around him. I had previously written an article about the state of the running game and if Vonta Leach would be released, but what about the passing game? With the immense deal that Flacco has signed, it is possible that the organization will want to strengthen its receiving core.
If the team decides to go that route, there are many viable options to choose from. I am going to take you inside the big boards and give you a look at the five best options at wide receiver come draft day. With several teams likely to take receivers ahead of Baltimore, these are the five guys who have the best chance to be on the board when the Ravens are on the clock in rounds one and two.
Robert Woods, USC: This is a guy who has to be a sure-fire pick if he is still available. Woods had a terrific career at USC, at had a fantastic outing at the 2013 NFL scouting Combine. He dropped about two balls all day, showing terrific ball-handling skills. He isn’t a blazing fast prospect, only running the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds, but his hands and big play potential outweigh that.
I don’t typically see the Ravens drafting a receiver in the first round, especially because of all the needs on defense. But if Woods somehow slips down, I find it hard to believe that the front office will pass.
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson: Of all the receiver prospects abound this year, Hopkins is the person who intrigues me the most. He is very good at manipulating defenses and making plays after the catch with agile moves. Like Woods, Hopkins doesn’t have the speed that most teams look for, but his play in open space is something that should propel him to be taken high in the draft.
The scenario in which I can see the Ravens taking Hopkins in round one is if most players on their big board have already been snatched. A lot of players who seem to fit in the Baltimore scheme could be taken earlier. If worse comes to worst, Hopkins is a guy that will fit the Ravens’ system well.
Justin Hunter, Tennessee: There has been a whole lot of buzz over this underclassman. Hunter is a speedster, running a 4.4 40-yard dash, and he put up phenomenal statistics in his junior year as a Volunteer. Over his 73 receptions, he recorded over 1,000 receiving yards. Hunter also accounted for nine touchdowns through the air. The only knock on Hunter is his bum knee. He tore his ACL during the 2011 season, and that could be a big concern heading into draft day.
Hunter is at an awkward spot for the Ravens as he is listed as a middle of the second-round prospect. I don’t think he is worth a first-round pick, but if he slips to the end of the second round, I think Ozzie Newsome will have his eye on Hunter.
Da’Rick Rodgers, Tennessee Tech: Rodgers shows a lot to be excited about for NFL teams. He has a great combination of talents and exhibits it on the field. His stats in college were remarkable, and he really should be a first-round pick.
Here’s his problem: off the field issues. In 2011, he was forced to transfer from Tennessee to Tennessee Tech because of his suspension for violating team rules. He hasn’t proved that he can be relied on off the field, and because of that, he might just be available when the Ravens draft in the second round.
Ryan Swope, Texas A&M: Ryan Swope can be found all over in mock drafts. He is a very intriguing prospect who is coming out as a senior with great experience at Texas A&M. Many experts project him as a third-round prospect, but I believe that his NFL Scouting Combine workout pushes him up a bit higher. Swope ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, an incredible time for any prospect. During his four seasons at A&M, he tallied 3,117 yards and caught 24 touchdowns.
He is a player whose playmaking abilities outshine many prospects in the draft. He is dominate in the open field, and his knack for catching the football is impressive. At the pro level, I can see him excelling as not only a north-south kind of receiver, but over the middle as well.
I expect him to be available when the Ravens pick in the second round, and he has to be a player the team will look at heavily.
If Baltimore cannot snag a receiver in the first two rounds, there is an unbelievable amount of depth in this year’s draft. Only time will tell what the Ravens will do on April 25-27, but a new wideout could be here in the near future.