Eric DeCosta: Wide Receiver Strength Is in Second and Third Rounds

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Remember how much time was spent last year talking about first-round wide receivers Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross?

Well, all three were scooped up in the top-10 picks and thus out of range of the Ravens.

This year, like last, there’s a lot of buzz around Baltimore about drafting a wide receiver in the first round, but there may be a different issue.

There’s not many to be had.

“This year, I think no question there are a couple first-round wideouts,” Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said at the Senior Bowl. “There are not a lot.”

The top of the class doesn’t seem to be as stacked, and the consensus best wideout – Alabama’s Calvin Ridley – is widely projected to be picked before Baltimore’s No. 16-overall pick (though much can still change).

Outside of Ridley, Oklahoma State’s James Washington, Southern Methodist’s Courtland Sutton and Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk are the other wideouts in the first-round discussion as of now, but ESPN’s Mel Kiper doesn’t see any being worth a mid-first-round pick. He has Kirk at No. 26 and Sutton at No. 27.

But don’t fret too much, receiver-hungry Ravens fans. DeCosta still sees a lot of talent at wideout early.

“This year, I think the strength of the draft at the wideout position is there might be eight or nine guys that you feel comfortable taking in the second and third rounds,” he said. “That was not the case for us last year.”

Last April, after the top three wideouts were off the board, there was a gap of 28 picks without a wide receiver taken. Two more were plucked (Zay Jones to Buffalo and Curtis Samuel to Carolina) before Baltimore was on the clock again in the second round.

In the third round, Cooper Kupp was picked by the Los Angeles Rams five picks ahead of Baltimore, who selected defensive end Chris Wormley.

There weren’t many second- and third-round wideouts drafted, and those that were (minus JuJu Smith-Schuster) were drafted not long before Baltimore was on the clock.

This year should be different. The Ravens expect to have more chances to grab young, talented wide receivers even if they don’t get one in the first round.

Among the possibilities, including some listed as potential first-round picks listed above are Memphis’ Anthony Miller, Clemson’s Deon Cain, Indiana’s Simmie Cobb Jr., Florida State’s Auden Tate, Colorado State’s Michael Gallup, Maryland’s D.J. Moore and others.

The Ravens have drafted a wide receiver in the first three rounds just twice since 2008: first-rounder Breshad Perriman in 2015 and second-rounder Torrey Smith in 2011. Head Coach John Harbaugh said it’s no secret that Baltimore is looking for more offensive playmakers.

“I think everybody realizes that,” DeCosta said. “We want guys that can catch balls, make contested catches, and then also after they catch the ball, make plays with their feet – break tackles, make guys miss and score touchdowns.”

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