Jaelen Strong: Most Popular Baltimore Ravens Mock Draft Target


Dec 27, 2014; El Paso, TX, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong (21) jumps in the air to catch a pass against the Duke Blue Devils in the 2014 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

We, like every NFL fan, have spent a great deal of time lately looking at mock drafts from around the web.  While most mocks get blown out of the water once draft day actually arrives, it’s always interesting to learn about the players that scouts covet the most, and occasionally the media mavens actually get a pick or two correct, making it a semi-worthwhile waste of time.

So far this mock draft season, there has been little consensus on what direction the Baltimore Ravens will go once they are on the board with the 26th pick.  And for good reason, because this is a team that rarely does what people think they will do.  For Ozzie Newsome, a GM that subscribes to the “best player available” theory of drafting, it’s hard to predict.  After all, who they pick depends on what the twenty five teams before them decide to do.

One player that has surfaced frequently among mock drafters lately is Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong.  This year certainly presents a good opportunity for teams to upgrade at the wide receiver position, though the current class is not quite as strong as last years.  Strong is among the best of the group and possesses the intangibles that could eventually make him a #1 NFL wide receiver.

Here is the logic behind Strong’s selection as a good fit for the Ravens.

Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated

“Was the Torrey Smith-Steve Smith combo a one-and-done proposition in Baltimore? Regardless, the Ravens could use Strong. He fits the mold for what Joe Flacco needs in a receiver – namely, a physical target who will outmuscle cornerbacks for the ball.”

Dan Kadar, SB Nation

“Statistically, wide receiver Torrey Smith took a step backward this season. If there’s a good wideout available when the Ravens pick, they should strike. Strong is at his best when he’s working vertically, which caters to Joe Flacco’s deep ball ability.”

Rob Rang, CBS Sports

“At 35, Steve Smith is a short-term fix, and Torrey Smith is a pending free agent. The aptly-named Strong has the size, power and body control to win contested passes, traits that project well with the strong-armed Joe Flacco delivering passes.”

All solid logic, of course.  The biggest concern I have with taking Strong in the first round is his lack of polish.  He is not a guy who can come in and immediately play every snap, at least not without making some mistakes.  Can the Ravens live with that?

Jaelen Strong is far from an finished product, which is evident in his route running.  In college, Strong got by many times by simply posting up and using his height and length to win against smaller corners. He won’t have that luxury in the NFL, where corners are generally bigger and more physical.

Having said that, Strong has the size, body control, and leaping ability that can make him a great NFL wide receiver once he learns to overcome those shortcomings.  Strong is quick off the line and he fights through arm tackles while generating yards after the catch.  He has a knack for making tough catches and is effective at every level of the field.

So while Jaelen Strong may not be the guy who can come in and immediately be a full time, number one receiver, he has the ability to grow into that role.  There will be growing pains most likely, a la Kelvin Benjamin, so he isn’t an ideal Torrey Smith replacement.  But patience in the young man will most likely be greatly rewarded.

Next: Mel Kiper REALLY Wants the Ravens to Pick a Tight End

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