Eric DeCosta is Bullish on Ravens Receivers

WRs Miles Boykin, Marquise Brown and Devin Duvernay

In 2017, the Ravens' top wide receivers were Mike Wallace (52 catches), Jeremy Maclin (40), Michael Campanaro (19), Chris Moore (18) and Breshad Perriman (10). Of those five, only Moore remains with the team.

To say the wide receiver corps has been revamped would be an understatement.

In his first two drafts as General Manager, Eric DeCosta has targeted wide receiver more than any other position, drafting Devin Duvernay and James Proche this year to join 2019 draft picks Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin.

By getting younger and faster with draft picks and signing Willie Snead IV as a free agent in 2018, the Ravens have built a versatile receiving corps that can grow with quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is still just 23 years old.

In a conference call last week with Ravens PSL Owners, DeCosta said he is bullish on Baltimore's wide receiver group, which has become more diverse.

"I love Willie Snead and Hollywood Brown," DeCosta said. "And we drafted Miles Boykin last year. And I think that Chris Moore is one of the best special teams wide receivers in the league. We drafted Devin Duvernay this year, James Proche. We've got Jaleel Scott on the team. We've also got all these tight ends.

"So we think if you look at our team over the last two, three years, we've done a lot to address skill positions: targets for Lamar, guys that can make plays. We feel really, really good about that. We love the mix of personalities and players and the upside and leadership that we've got. And I think Lamar's got a great chemistry with those guys as well. We think our younger guys are going to continue to make a jump."

Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews led the Ravens in receptions (64) and receiving yards (852) last year, and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman loves utilizing tight ends in the passing game. However, as the wide receiver group continues to develop, the Ravens believe the passing game can rise to another level.

The Ravens expect a healthier Brown in 2020, fully recovered from Lisfranc foot surgery that forced him to play the entire 2019 season at less than 100 percent. Brown still had a productive rookie year (46 catches, 584 yards, seven touchdowns) as the team's primary deep threat, and there's every reason to believe Brown will be in position to make more game-breaking plays with a year of experience.

Baltimore is also anticipating more from Boykin (13 catches, 198 yards, three touchdowns) whose size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) makes him an additional asset as a run-blocker. The Ravens love Boykin and Snead's willingness to block, and if Boykin becomes more polished as a receiver, his playing time will likely increase.

"Very, very excited about Miles," DeCosta said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "He made some big plays for us throughout the course of the year. We expect him to improve quite a bit with an offseason. He's a big and strong and fast and physical guy. Great attitude. The second year for most receivers is critical and we think he'll make a big jump."

With Brown running at full speed in 2020 and Duvernay joining the lineup, the Ravens believe their offense will stretch opposing defenses and create more room to attack. Duvernay's 4.39 speed at the Combine confirmed why he was such a devastating deep threat at Texas.

ESPN analyst Ryan Clark loves the production Proche had at SMU, and believes he'll play with more savvy than the typical rookie. Clark is a former Pittsburgh Steeler, but he didn't hold back when talking about Proche after the 2020 NFL schedule was revealed last week. Getting Proche in the sixth round could be another key piece to Baltimore's rebuilt receiving corps.

"The guy (Proche) had over 300 receptions at SMU," Clark said via "Coach (Mike) Tomlin always spoke to me about drafting wide receivers. He said he loves guys who caught a ton of footballs in college because they won't be scared of the moment. They will understand how to make those plays, and I think that can be a huge help for Lamar Jackson."

As debate continues to swirl about whether the Ravens should sign veteran Antonio Brown, who last week posted a picture of himself in a Ravens jersey, it's clear that DeCosta likes the unit he's already built.

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