The Ravens are in an interesting position when it comes to the wide receiver spot. There’s an obvious need to fill the loss of Anquan Boldin and WR could be one of their top targeted positions. However, picking at 32 will likely keep them from grabbing the top two receiver prospects, Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson. The Ravens could look to move back into the top of the second and grab a receiver there which works out because there are several talented receivers that should go in the 30s-40s on draft day. Let’s take a look at some of those prospects.
Allen may be my favorite WR prospect in the draft. His timed speed isn’t great but he doesn’t appear slow on tape. Allen is an athletic receiver that was initially recruited by Alabama to play safety. A savvy, precise route runner, Allen also does a great job in space with the ball in his hands. One aspect of his game that I really like is his willingness to block downfield. Allen will gladly work the center of the field and could be a great addition to the Ravens offense. Mike Mayock is quoted as saying “Three months ago, I said, if you watch this kid on tape…if you like him, he’s Anquan Boldin. If you don’t like him, he’s speed-deficient. So I don’t really care what he runs in the 40. On tape, to me, he’s a 4.55 guy all day long.” Allen may not be the next Anquan Boldin, but that comparison alone should get Ravens fans excited.
The first round may be a bit of a stretch for Woods, but he could fit in nicely with Baltimore’s offense. Woods is a very polished receiver that may have the most sure hands in the draft. He’s an excellent route runner and is known as a hard worker. Woods may never be a true #1 receiver, but he could be an excellent safety valve receiver for Joe Flacco and a stud #2 receiver opposite Torrey Smith.
There’s a chance Hopkins could slip into the top of the 2nd round, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t a first round talent. Hopkins excels over the middle and knows how to use his body to shield defenders from the ball. Though he has room to add bulk to his frame, he is surprisingly physical with defenders and is very competitive when the ball is in the air. Still has room for development but reportedly has a high work ethic. Won’t burn defenders with speed but as a #2 receiver, Hopkins could make an immediate impact.
Hunter possibly could have been one of the first receivers taken in this draft if not for an ACL injury during the 2011 season. At 6’4″, Hunter has tremendous size and has the speed to match, making him a matchup nightmare on the outside. Hunter isn’t the type to work the middle of the field, but he’s a legit vertical and end zone threat. He’s been inconsistent at times and paired with the injury concerns, that may drop him into the middle of the 2nd round.
Williams is a very fluid athlete that has good build for the position. He knows how to use his body to shield defenders and he isn’t afraid of contact. Williams isn’t an explosive receiver and he’s a bit of a long strider, but could be a nice addition on the outside.
Patton is a quicker-than-fast receiver but does a great job in the open field with the ball in his hands. He’s very competitive when the ball is in the air and is a secure, hands-catcher. Patton also is an excellent punt returner, which could boost his draft status. He’s a bit inconsistent at times and needs to get stronger, but he shows a lot of promise as an underneath receiver at the next level.
Wheaton is a fast, dynamic athlete at the receiver position and has a pretty high ceiling in the NFL. He’s not the biggest receiver and needs to add some bulk, but he’s not afraid of contact. Does a great job in space and Oregon State always found a way to put the ball in his hands. Very natural pass catcher but also an above average route runner. Has had his share of drops when trying to make a move before securing the catch, but overall, he’s a high quality receiver that could potentially wind up in the bottom of round 2. As a third round pick, Wheaton is an absolute steal.
Rogers’ off-field concerns have been widely discussed and that is what will drop him into the 3rd round of the draft. Physically, he has all the tools. He’s a big, physical receiver that has above average speed. Rogers has the ability to be a Terrell Owens type receiver, but the character concerns may even eliminate him from some teams’ boards.
Swope is a matchup nightmare as a slot receiver. Even with his size, Swope is very quick, turning in 40 yard dash times in the 4.3s at the combine. Sure pass catcher that is also an excellent route runner. Swope is a day one contributor and could wind up having a long career as a slot receiver. Could be a very exciting addition in Baltimore as he could add a Wes Welker-esque dimension to their passing game.
Excellent combination of size and speed. Dobson has solid leaping ability and appears to be a natural pass catcher. Dobson was a team captain in 2012 and his work ethic and determination shows on the field. May be a bit of an overachiever and even though he has a long frame, he has small hands. There’s not much about Dobson that “wows” you but he appears to be a solid receiver overall.
Bailey isn’t the first WVU wide receiver that folks will think about this year, but don’t underestimate him. He fits the mold of a prototypical possession receiver and does a great job after the catch. Tough and reliable receiver. Produced at a high level while at WVU but his size and limited speed will drop him into the 4th round or later.
Harper is a tough, physical receiver that works well across the middle. Doesn’t possess ideal speed but makes up for it with sure hands and his physical play. Could wind up being a great value pick in the 4th round.
Excellent straight line speed and athletic ability. Good body control and can fight through press coverage. King has a fairly thin frame and probably wouldn’t be a consistent threat over the middle. However, he has a nice combination of production and experience in the SEC and could be a rotational contributor for the Ravens.
Harrison has a combination of size and speed that scouts drool over, but lacks the consistent play that coaches look for. If Harrison can be picked up in a late round or as a priority UDFA, his risk is low and the reward is high. But his inconsistency will make it hard for any team to warrant more than a late round pick on him.
A Baltimore native, Fuller is a very intriguing prospect. Originally went to Kansas to run track and then transferred to Virginia Tech, getting onto the football team as a walk-on. Fuller saw the majority of his reps in 2012 and considering he’s pretty raw, there’s a lot of upside. His combination of size and speed is rare and if he can be coached up, he could be a steal in the late rounds of the draft.