Analysts Predict Wide Receiver Moves

With the first wave of free agency over and the draft just a month away, perhaps the biggest question for the Ravens is what they plan to do to fill a need at wide receiver.

Torrey Smith's departure to San Francisco left the Ravens with a void in their offense, and General Manager Ozzie Newsome has remained quiet up to this point. The lack of activity on the receiver front has raised some questions about Baltimore's plans, and national NFL analysts gave their insight on what Newsome could have up his sleeve.

"They're not about to panic in late-March, even though some of their fans and the media keep waiting for them to go that route," Sports Illustrated's Don Banks said at the NFL Owner's Meetings.

A likely possibility is for the Ravens to use the draft to replenish the position, and maybe with more than one rookie.

This year's draft class is considered deep at receiver, which could make a playmaker available when the Ravens pick at No. 26. Even if the Ravens decide to pass on a wideout in the first round, the group is deep enough that they could still get an impact player in the second or third rounds.

"I think it's more likely they hit the draft hard, and maybe take two receivers after the loss of Torrey Smith," Banks said. "I would expect they're going to hit that hard. It wouldn't surprise me at all if their first-round pick was a receiver." 

"It's not as much of a problem at wide receiver because it's a good wide receiver draft," ESPN's John Clayton added.

The long-held drafting philosophy for Newsome and the Ravens is to take the best player available rather than chasing needs, and the preference is to fill as many roster holes as possible before getting to the draft.

Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated last week that the Ravens are keeping a close eye on the market and are still open to adding a veteran receiver in the coming weeks. The Ravens may also decide to wait until after June 1 to acquire an unrestricted free-agent target so that the player doesn't count against the compensatory pick formula.

"Could they end up with a Greg Jennings or Michael Crabtree, kind of the best of what's left in a modest receiver market in free agency? Yes," Banks said. "If they get the right price, they could bring either of those guys in."

Another possibility is for the Ravens to explore a trade. Newsome has gone that route in recent years to acquire veteran pass catchers with a proven track record of success.

Wide receivers Anquan Boldin (2010) and Lee Evans (2011) both came to Baltimore through trades.

"It's been the year of the trade. I won't rule out any sort of trade, maybe even a trade involving draft picks for a current player, or maybe to move up or down a draft board to target somebody," said Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

"They're a proactive organization. They know they're not where they need to be in a couple of position groups. And I'm just sort of keeping an eye on trades because I think there will be some more as we get closer to the draft."

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