Eisenberg: Joe Flacco Will Love This Pick

It's hard not to get excited about the Ravens' selection of wide receiver Breshad Perriman in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft Thursday night.

They needed a home run hitter, a speedy wideout who could "take the top" off defenses, and that's exactly what Perriman is – the fast, big-bodied receiver that fans have long clamored for the Ravens to take with a high pick.

I could practically hear the cheers echoing through Ravenstown when the pick was announced. Yes, by golly, they finally did it. Instead of following their familiar, somewhat sober and time-tested blueprint of going more with linebackers, offensive linemen and defensive backs than ball carriers and pass catchers, the Ravens made a flashy pick.

I'm all for it.

I know Joe Flacco is all for it.

Hey, who isn't?

Listen to what Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin said of Perriman, who caught 50 passes for 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns last season as a junior at Central Florida: "The speed this kid has is incredible. He can absolutely fly. Perriman reminds me a lot of Andre Johnson. When you start talking about money downs, no player made more plays on third and fourth downs than Perriman."

If that doesn't get your juices flowing, hey, you might not have a pulse.

Perriman fills a crucial void in the offense that opened up when Torrey Smith signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March. The Ravens still had a productive group of receivers led by Steve Smith Sr., Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken, a group they like so much that they said several times recently that they didn't feel they needed to draft a receiver. But the reality was they no longer had a flat-out burner. They did need to add that dimension, especially given Flacco's deep-ball talents and new Offensive Coordinator Mark Trestman's track record of getting a lot out of receivers.

Now they have that speed dimension. Perriman's 40-yard dash time is one of the fastest ever. With Flacco throwing to him, Smith mentoring him and Trestman drawing up plays for him, he's in quite a situation for a young receiver.

"I know it's a great opportunity," he said Thursday night.

It might take me a few days to get used to the fact that the Ravens actually did this. Their style is to use the high end of the draft to add building blocks, fortify the guts of their team. They hadn't drafted an offensive player with a first-round pick since 2008. They hadn't drafted a wide receiver or running back with a first-round pick since 2005.

Honestly, when the night started, I thought they would end up taking a defensive player such as cornerback Marcus Peters or pass rusher Shane Ray.

But as the first round unfolded, it became clear that a handful of highly-rated receivers would be available when the Ravens picked. Miami's Phillip Dorsett and Arizona State's Jaelen Strong were also available as well as Perriman.

But the Ravens weren't just looking to fill one of their biggest needs. They were looking to fill the need with one player in particular.

Head Coach John Harbaugh told WBAL late Thursday night that the team had Perriman rated as the "14th or 15th" best player in the draft, making it clear why they were so elated to get him at No. 26. GM Ozzie Newsome said the team probably would have traded out of the first round if Perriman hadn't been available.

If I'm reading between those lines correctly, he was the last highly-rated player on their board who was still available when their turn came. No wonder Newsome turned in the pick less than two minutes into the Ravens' allotted 10-minute window. He knew he had his man, another value selection near the bottom of the first round.

The Ravens still have a handful of other needs they need to address with their nine remaining picks over the next two days. Don't be surprised if they make a trade, package several of those picks to move up and grab a player in the second or third round Friday night. They could use a pass-catching tight end and they need to bolster their depth at cornerback.

But the Perriman pick already assures them of a draft class that will ramp up the excitement for 2015.

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