The Ravens perform all of their due diligence on wide receivers prior to each NFL Draft and they are confident in their final assessment of the available players.
Nonetheless, the team has struggled to find a game-changing player at that position.
From Travis Taylor to Mark Clayton to Breshad Perriman, the Ravens have whiffed when taking a receiver in the first round.
General manager Ozzie Newsome hopes to reverse that trend this year. The Ravens have already added Michael Crabtree and John Brown for added depth at the position.
“I look at drafting receivers just like I look at bringing receivers in as UFAs or as free agents,” Newsome said. “There are certain traits, strengths, that we look for. What we found out that sometimes the development of the receiver can be retarded because they’re just not on the field. The durability aspect of it will affect him, and some of the success of the receivers that we’ve had have all had durability, have all been able to be on the field. That way they can develop.
“If they’re spending a lot of time off the field – they can’t develop. I don’t think there’s any difference in the receivers that you bring in the draft than it is when you sign a Michael Crabtree or a John Brown. We field them all the same.”
The top five receivers available, according to ESPN’s Todd McShay, are:
- Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
- Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)
- D.J. Moore (Maryland)
- Courtland Sutton (SMU)
- D.J. Chark (LSU)
Some draft pundits have the Ravens taking Ridley within the No. 16 overall pick, but a disappointing performance at the NFL Combine has hurt his stock. There are also some questions as to whether he can make an immediate impact, which appears to be a prerequisite for the Ravens in this draft.
The Ravens could trade back and pick up an extra pick to take a receiver that fits the criteria of their board. In short, everything is on the table and Newsome is mulling every scenario.
The Ravens could be tempted to select Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey with the 16th overall pick. McGlinchey would help anchor the offensive line, which has been hampered with injuries. McGlinchey, who is 6-foot-8, 315 pounds, would battle for the starting role at right tackle. This would allow Alex Lewis to take over the role of starting center.
“You might be surprised at who we pick at 16 this year – if we pick at 16,” Newsome said.
Newsome has also not ruled out adding another free-agent receiver. Even though the market has grown thin, Newsome still sees opportunities to add valuable players that get released from other teams.
That is an area where the Ravens have thrived. The team’s salary cap, however, might limit some of their options because they are not in a position to outbid numerous other franchises.
“The good thing about this league is when one move is made, it probably means somebody is going to get cut,” Newsome said. “So, you just have to be prepared for any and all avenues of getting players, but the restricted area is a little bit different, because the team has the ability to match.
“And, with the new CBA, you can’t put poison pills in anymore, and they only have to match the front side of the deal. So, the home team has the benefit when you’re dealing with a restricted guy.”