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Late For Work 1/9: Nine Potential Wide Receiver Targets For Ravens

Posted Jan 9, 2014

Suggs shouldn’t test Ozzie to see if bluffing. Castillo return means problem was players. Will Moeller leave?

9 Potential WR Targets For Ravens

Here’s what we know about the Ravens’ intentions at receiver.

They want a reliable pass catcher – wide receiver or tight end – who can convert on third down and get some yards after the catch. They are very confident they can find such a coveted receiver, whether he’s an unrestricted free agent (UFA), a cap casualty, trade or rookie.

“In other words, Baltimore is going to explore every option,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

It’s tricky to identify potential trades or cap casualties, but Hensley points to five first-round wide receivers and four UFA wide receivers that the Ravens could target.

One thing to note before we get into the list is that even if the Ravens don’t use their first-round pick on a receiver, there could still be plenty of talent later on. The ESPN draft tracker has 13 wide receivers listed among its top 90 prospects.

“The wide receiver position is deep in this year’s draft, and that is good news for the Ravens,” wrote CSNBaltimore.com’s Clifton Brown.

Wide Receivers In The Draft

Mike Evans, Texas A&M
6-foot-5, 225 pounds
2013: 69 catches, 1,394 yards, 12 touchdowns

CBS Sports Breakdown: “Highly physical receiver who uses his size and strength to simply bully defenders. Possesses an NFL-ready body, aiding him in his fight through press coverage, pushing off to generate consistent (if illegal) separation, when boxing out defenders on jump balls and in providing excellent downfield blocking for teammates. … Classic long-strider who does not possess the preferred burst off the snap to instantly challenge defenders off the line or out of his breaks.”

Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
6-5, 235
54 catches, 1,011 yards, 15 touchdowns
CBS Sports Breakdown: “Near-tight end size (6-5, 235) with a ridiculously large wingspan, giving him a catching radius that is probably on-par with anyone at the NFL level. Shows the gliding speed and short-area quickness to create some separation and be a terror in jump-ball situations, especially in the red zone. … Still developing as a route-runner.” 

Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
6-3, 205
112 catches, 1,477 yards, 7 touchdowns
CBS Sports Breakdown: “Matthews, a cousin of the legendary Jerry Rice, is a better football player than he is an athlete. While he led the SEC with a gaudy 19.0 yards-per-catch average last season, he has good (but not great) build-up speed. His size allows him to be moved inside and out in Vandy's offense, allowing the team to find him favorable matchups and has very good hand-eye coordination to haul in tough passes, including one-handed catches.”

Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
5-10, 182
128 catches, 1,730 yards, 16 touchdowns
CBS Sports Breakdown: “Special athlete with explosive feet and natural burst - springs in his legs. Fluid body control with excellent start/stop moves, open-field vision and patient hesitation to elude defenders - joystick moves with loose hips and joints. Beautiful acceleration with speed to burn - electric after the catch. Quick hands to adjust and pluck with very good coordination to look the ball into his mitts. Strong football character. Tough individual - has never missed a game at any level. … Lacks ideal size with below average height and length for the position. Limited strength, muscle and overall growth potential.”

Jarvis Landry, LSU
6-0, 195
77 catches, 1,193 yards, 10 touchdowns
CBS Sports Breakdown: “Solidly-built frame with above average toughness and body strength. Good build-up speed with smooth quickness and body control. Strong cuts and controlled momentum down the field - very good catch-and-go receiver. … Good size and speed, but limited in both areas. Only average height and length for the position. Takes a few moments to get up to his top-end speed and can be slowed in his routes by physical defenders - will struggle at times vs. press.”

Unrestricted Free Agents

Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
26 years old, 4 years experience, 6-foot-3, 214 pounds
87 catches, 1,288 yards, 11 touchdowns


Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

27 years old, 5 years experience, 5-10, 198
105 catches, 1,056 yards, 6 touchdowns

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
25 years old, 5 years experience, 6-1, 208
56 catches, 896 yards, 0 touchdowns

James Jones, Green Bay Packers
29 years old, 7 years experience, 6-1, 208
59 catches, 817 yards, 3 touchdowns

Suggs Shouldn’t Test Ozzie To See If Bluffing

General Manager Ozzie Newsome was clear.

Newsome indicated he would like to extend Suggs’ contract, which could help lesson his reported $12.4 million salary cap hit. And then there was a big “but.”

He’s not afraid to let Suggs walk away.

“Here was the message: Suggs should consider a contract extension or he could end up on another team like Anquan Boldin,” Hensley wrote.

“If I were Suggs, I wouldn't test the Ravens to see if they're bluffing. The Ravens have every right to approach Suggs about reworking his deal. Baltimore paid Suggs $6.4 million this year and got only half of their money's worth.”

That essentially leaves Suggs with a decision to leave for potentially more money with another team like Ed Reed, or extend and retire a Raven like Ray Lewis.

“My guess is that Suggs, who idolized Lewis, will want the same storybook ending and sign a contract extension with the Ravens,” Hensley wrote.

Hensley may be right.

A league source told ProFootballTalk.com that Suggs would like to negotiate an extension.

“Newsome also mentioned that he's been in frequent contact with Suggs this offseason, which does indicate both parties are working on an agreement,” added Baltimore Beatdown’s Jason Butt.

Interpreting Castillo Return: Problem Was Players

The fans around town who were calling for the Ravens to fire Juan Castillo were shocked to hear that instead he will get a title change from run game coordinator to offensive line coach.

Head Coach John Harbaugh took blame for giving Castillo his original title, indicating the run-game struggles weren’t solely Castillo’s fault.

There were issues along the offensive line, however, where Harbaugh said Castillo took the lead. He will have the same responsibilities this year, but with a different title.

So the message with keeping Castillo is simple: “Whether it's intentional or not, this decision to keep Castillo says the problem with the offensive line is the players, not the coaching staff,” Hensley wrote.

Now, the Ravens are focused on making offensive line personnel changes, including bulking up the interior of the line.

“I wouldn't feel too secure if I was center Gino Gradkowski upon hearing that,” Hensley wrote.

“The Ravens' offensive line, especially center Gino Gradkowski and left guard A.Q. Shipley, was frequently overmatched in terms of size against imposing defensive linemen,” added The Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson.

Will Andy Moeller Leave?

Now that Castillo has officially been named the offensive line coach, many are speculating that Andy Moeller – the former offensive line coach –will start a job search.

“The most likely scenario is that Moeller will not return,” wrote Brown. “Castillo and Moeller worked together last season, but Castillo being the true offensive line coach and Moeller having the title created some awkwardness.”

As for the rest of the coaching staff, until Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell decides what he will do, the Ravens are in a “holding pattern,” says Wilson.

Caldwell finished up his third head coaching interview yesterday with the Tennessee Titans after interviewing with the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins previously.

“If Caldwell gets a job, the Ravens would need a new offensive coordinator and possibly a new secondary coach because he's expected to bring Teryl Austin with him as defensive coordinator,” wrote Wilson.

Quick Hits

  • Ha! If this actually worked, you could expect fans of all 32 teams to file similar injunctions since all teams have had blown calls against them. … A Pennsylvania man filed for an emergency injunction to get the NFL playoffs suspended for 7-10 days so the Steelers and Chargers can play a game on a neutral field with the winner going to the playoffs. He claims the Chargers should not have advanced after officials missed a call in their Week 17 matchup against the Chiefs. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • @RavensInsider: Patriots made it official with former Ravens running back Jonas Gray, signing him to a reserve-future deal [Twitter]
  • @jwyattsports [The Tennessean]: Per flight data, #Titans plane sked 2 fly #Ravens OC Jim Caldwell back 2 Balt in roughly 2 hours. Mike Zimmer waiting on tarmac, up next [Twitter]
  • @gdowning14: Yes. RT @MikeFastJr: Isn't Boldin an UFA? [Twitter]
  • @sportswcoleman: Did confirm with #Ravens source the Ray Lewis statue plans are still "in progress." Was told it will be near Johnny U #Baltimore @1057TheFan [Twitter]
  • @gdowning14: Full crowd of media here for today's press conference [Twitter]

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