Eric DeCosta Admits Ravens May Need to Take More 'Swings' at Receivers in Draft


Selecting the right wide receiver(s) in the upcoming NFL Draft is going to be a major piece to the puzzle as the Ravens essentially start over at the position.

Overhauling the group has clearly been an offseason mission as evidenced by parting ways with their top three pass catchers from last year, yet the team's draft history hasn't inspired much confidence externally about restocking through the draft. Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said in February that it's a well-documented fact that the team hasn't had much success at drafting the position.

But there's another "fact" that's less talked about, and if corrected, could greatly alter the team's chances of landing a successful receiver.

Simply put, the Ravens must make more attempts.

"To get a good player at any position, you've got to swing," Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said last week.

"You can get one at-bat in a baseball game and strike out and everyone's going to say you're a bad hitter. But if you get up four times and you hit two singles or two doubles, you're a .500 hitter. So, you hope perception changes. You've got to swing. We probably haven't swung quite as much, quite honestly, for a lot of different reasons."

The Ravens have only taken one wide receiver in the first three rounds in the past six years. Their single attempt? Breshad Perriman with the 26th pick in the 2015 draft. This is his last chance to avoid the bust label, as General Manager Ozzie Newsome said this will be a make-or-break summer for him.

Only three times in their 22 drafts have the Ravens spent a first-round pick on a wide receiver (Perriman, Travis Taylor, Mark Clayton). Overall, they've spent 25 picks on wide receivers and only Torrey Smith (second round, 2011), has been considered significantly successful with 213 receptions for 3,591 yards and 30 touchdowns in four years in Baltimore.

DeCosta said one of the many reasons Baltimore hasn't taken as many swings is because there's been an inflation in value for skill positions over the years.

"Players are getting drafted probably higher than where we actually see their skill levels necessarily being," DeCosta said.

For example, Ravens scouts may give a grade to skill position player in the second or third round, but he'll be drafted in the first round. Or they'll grade a guy to be a late first-rounder, but a team takes him in the top half of the first round.

"I think some of that is because of the perception and pressure to find skill players," DeCosta said. "It doesn't necessarily mean they're any better than players that are drafted in front of them, but the value of these players has changed."

Last year's draft is a good example, as the top three receivers (Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross) were all surprisingly selected in the first nine picks.

The same thing has happened at the quarterback position. A quarterback could be graded as the 20th best player in the draft, but there's no way he's going to make it to No. 20. The value of quarterbacks is simply too high for him to last that long. 

Baltimore has benefited from the inflated value of these positions in the past with highly-rated players being pushed down the draft board. But if the Ravens specifically need a quarterback, wide receiver or another skill position, are they willing to reach for said player even though he may be rated lower but valued higher by the league?

"We have to make a decision. Are we going to react to that, as well?" DeCosta asked.  

"The values of the various positions in terms of winning and losing football games, it seems like the media, fan base, draft pundits, everyone has a different opinion. But that makes the value of those skills players greater than probably if you just graded all those players clinically across board. They would be taken higher than what you have them rated. And we have to make a decision of do we want to participate in that inflationary process."

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