The Ravens didn’t have the cap space to sit at the cool kids’ table during free agency. Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins landed massive deals and Jarvis Landry wound up in Cleveland for the cost of 4th and 7th round picks and the franchise tag of nearly $16 million. We knew it would be difficult for the team to get involved, so nobody should be surprised that these guys didn’t end up wearing purple.
The Ravens ended up doing very well for themselves with the additions of Michael Crabtree and John Brown. The interest they’ve shown in numerous other receivers in free agency leads us to believe they’d like to add one more piece before the draft.
With all that being said, it’s pretty tough to imagine a 3rd pre-draft addition to this group being strong enough that wide receiver isn’t still a focus come the end of April. Crabtree is the classic Ravens wideout addition – a very good player but likely past his prime. Brown is immensely talented but often injured and on a one-year deal. We’ve discussed ad nauseam – and vomiting – the rest of the wide out group. To play the exciting brand of football owner Steve Bisciotti would like to see, the Ravens will have to hit on a wide receiver(s) in the draft. So what does that player look like?
Before the combine, the thought of Calvin Ridley being there at 16 was silly. After a disappointing showing in the Underwear Olympics though, it’s very possible he’s available when Baltimore is on the clock. His athletic profile is absolutely concerning, posting a SPARQ score in the 7th percentile.
At the same time, you watch him on field and he’s getting gobs of separation on defensive backs, and his 40 time validates his ability to stretch the field. His age and his poor jumps make it likely that he’ll be more of a ground-bound WR, but the tape shows me a sudden route technician who can run by people.
Now while that may not ever translate to a guy that you can build your passing game around, it still sounds like a productive #2 starter.
A guy you could potentially build a passing game around? Courtland Sutton. He has an interesting blend of size and horizontal wiggle that could allow him to grow into a true #1 receiver. His combine was much the opposite of Ridley’s – great 3-cone time, good vertical and broad jumps – and he’s doing it from a 6’3’’ frame.
Now, he’s not the technician Ridley is by any means and some of what makes him appealing is a projection.
How the Ravens evaluate and value these two guys in particular will say a lot.
An abundance of cap space doesn’t seem likely over the next couple years. True playmaking receivers will cost top dollar in free agency. The only other way is draft and development. If they want to swing for the fences in hopes of landing that potential star, then they’d likely be more inclined to draft Sutton, D.J. Moore or Equanimeous St. Brown.
Maybe they just want a double. The last home run swing was Breshad Perriman and they likely just don’t have the stomach for that again, especially with the pressure to win in 2018. In that case they’d be more inclined to go with Ridley, Dante Pettis, Anthony Miller, or DaeSean Hamilton.
There’s also interesting in-between cases like Christian Kirk, James Washington or D.J. Chark that will likely end up in that 2nd to 3rd round sweet spot that Eric DeCosta mentioned.
Despite the free agent signings, they could easily still draft multiple receivers and pair a “floor” play with a “ceiling” play.
There will be a plethora of options for the Ravens come draft weekend and it will be truly intriguing to find out what the final touches of the remade wide receiver room looks like.