The Baltimore Ravens absolutely need to upgrade at wide receiver but that doesn’t mean they have to be fixated on one early in the 2018 NFL draft.
When you’re listing the offseason needs of the Baltimore Ravens, wide receiver tops the list every time. For a team that averaged just 189.4 passing yards per game during the 2017 season, it’s an obvious need.
Free agency provides an opportunity to upgrade but the Ravens won’t likely be big spenders. With just $10,995,225 in projected cap space, the top priority will be to re-sign center, Ryan Jensen. If that happens, it’s going to be tough to bring in a big name wide receiver even if the Ravens absolutely need to. That’s not saying they can’t find cheaper options on the market but there isn’t a No. 1 wide receiver available. That leaves the NFL draft as the next viable option.
The draft seems like the most likely scenario where the Ravens will upgrade at wide receiver but their track record isn’t promising. In fact, it’s horrible.
The best receiver on this list is Torrey Smith and even he has amassed the 1,000 receiving mark just once.
Travis Taylor, Mark Clayton, and Breshad Perriman were all disappointments as first round picks. This year, it’s going to be very tempting for the Ravens to draft a wide receiver in the first round. ESPN’s Mel Kiper believes the Ravens are going to go 90% offense in the draft but that doesn’t necessarily mean they need a wide receiver in the first round.
There’s depth in the draft
The wide receiver class is deep beyond the first round. Calvin Ridley could easily be off the board in the first 10 picks and it might be too much of a reach for Courtland Sutton or any other receiver at No. 16. Projections are subject to change but if that’s the case then the Ravens shouldn’t be fixated on selecting a wide receiver in the first round.
There’s going to be plenty of opportunities in the early-mid rounds to find talent. Players like James Washington, D.J. Moore, Auden Tate, Christian Kirk and even Michael Gallup are just a few of the names that will be available past the first round. Just look at what the Steelers did last year with JuJu Smith-Schuster. They were patient and selected him in the second round, which proved to work wonders. The Rams followed the same pattern and found Cooper Kupp in the third round.
If the opportunity presents itself in the first round, by all means, I’d love to see the Ravens draft a wide receiver. Having said that, I’d rather see the Ravens tackle an offensive tackle like Brian O’Neill instead of being desperate and reaching.
The bottom line
The Ravens can’t hide behind past failures at wide receiver. They’ve had a horrible track record but that shouldn’t stop Ozzie Newsome from addressing the position. Free agent wide receivers are great but at some point, Bobby Engram has to develop drafted talent. If the Ravens can play their cards right, they could find some gems in the 2018 NFL draft.