Addressing the wide receiver position has been a much-discussed and long-debated conundrum in Baltimore.
As new General Manager Eric DeCosta assesses the right way to fill that need this offseason, he’s taking a methodical approach. Using the draft, and perhaps making a move later to sign a veteran free agent, the Ravens will make additions at wide receiver when they feel the time is right.
What does he say to fans getting antsy about the wide receiver depth chart?
“Patience,” DeCosta said. “We did not look at free agency as really a great way to address the wide receiver position this year. Last year, we thought it made a lot of sense. It didn’t make as much sense for us this year.
“We look at the draft as an opportunity to do that. We also think there may be some players that might be interesting to us at a later date that might become available.”
Currently, Willie Snead IV is the only wide receiver on the roster with at least 50 catches in the NFL. Chris Moore has 44 career catches and has played primarily on special teams. Jordan Lasley was not active for any games as a rookie, Jaleel Scott spent his rookie season on injured reserve, and Quincy Adeboyejo has appeared in just one career game.
The Ravens’ two most experienced wide receivers from last season have departed. Michael Crabtree was released before free agency began, while John Brown signed with the Buffalo Bills earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns traded for Odell Beckham Jr., bringing one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers into the AFC North. Now the Browns are being touted by many as the favorites to win the division, but titles are not won in March. Again, DeCosta is being patient.
“I’m not really a patient person,” DeCosta said. “If you spoke with my wife, I think she’d agree with that assessment of me. Fortunately, I’ve got great people that advise me and help me make decisions. I want to build the best team, and I want to do it as quickly as I can. But I’m also aware that you can make mistakes if you act too quickly. I’ve learned over time that I don’t want to act too fast. Sometimes the best decisions are the decisions you don’t make.”
This year’s draft is deep at wide receiver, and at least a half-dozen receivers have been mentioned as possibilities for the Ravens to draft with the No. 22 pick. Those being linked to the Ravens include A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf of Ole Miss, Marquise Brown of Oklahoma, Hakeem Butler of Iowa State, Parris Campbell of Ohio State, and N’Keal Harry of Arizona State. DeCosta, the coaching staff and scouts are sorting through the prospects, confident they will hit on a wide receiver at some point in the draft.
“Everybody always wants to know about wide receivers in Baltimore,” DeCosta said. “The challenge is to find those types of players in all the different rounds. You hope some of those guys fall to you. In the past we’ve had some success, but we also have misevaluated the range of players, guys that we wanted to take that got picked right before we could pick. That’s a frustrating thing.
“I think this draft is really nice because we have a lot of options. There’s a lot of players in this draft, draftable prospects at the wide receiver position. I’m confident that we’ll take at least one guy, at some point, that will have a chance to help the team.”