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After four days in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine, we had a chance to get up close and personal with many of the top receiver prospects that will be available in the upcoming draft.
The Ravens have made no secret about the fact that they would like to add more weapons around quarterback Joe Flacco, and that could start at wide receiver.
But how does the Class of 2010 stack up against the current crop of elite pro wideouts?
BaltimoreRavens.com gives you a handy comparison guide to some of the NFL's best at the position. While there are admittedly lofty standards, these assessments of the first- and second-round hopefuls are merely based on potential, skill set and size.
Dez Bryant (6-2, 220) Oklahoma State -> Larry Fitzgerald (6-3, 217) Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald has a nose for the football and can make any catch by adjusting to throws inside, outside, anywhere, something the former Cowboy has shown in two productive collegiate years. Bryant, who was suspended after three games last year for lying during an NCAA investigation, has similar size, but what really stands out with this duo is their ability to dominate on jump balls, using strength and superb hands to come down with the ball.
Golden Tate (5-10, 195) Notre Dame -> Steve Smith (5-9, 185) Carolina Panthers: Both on the smallish side, Smith and Tate have tremendous heart when it comes to the game. While in South Bend, Tate was a playmaker when given the ball with a small window of space, turning 3-yard catches into long gains. Just like Smith, Tate can make the acrobatic grab and elude defenders, as his 4.42-second 40 at the Combine showed. A former high school running back, Tate also possesses that tough mentality of Smith and willingly goes over the middle.
Brandon LaFell (6-3, 206) LSU -> Dwayne Bowe (6-2, 221) Kansas City Chiefs:With big, muscular frames, both LSU alums use their imposing builds to get open. While speaking with the media at the Combine, LaFell talked about his love for getting physical with opponents, which translates to making the catch and blocking. They might have a lack of superb quickness, but they make up for it with strength and the ability to break tackles.
Demaryius Thomas (6-3, 224) Georgia Tech -> Marques Colston (6-4, 225) New Orleans Saints:Even though Thomas broke his foot training for the Combine, his imposing size and penchant for the deep ball makes him a tantalizing prospect. The same could be said for Colston, who slipped under the radar out of Hofstra. They can both box out defensive backs downfield, as Thomas averaged 15.9 yards per reception last year, and Colston averaged 15.3
Arrelious Benn (6-2, 220) Illinois -> Anquan Boldin (6-1, 217) Arizona Cardinals: Hands, body control, toughness. Those three things characterize both Benn and Boldin. They are adept at finding seams in defenses and knowing where the sideline is, making sure to tap their toes. And going over the middle isn't a problem, either. Boldin has made a national reputation on his willingness to take a shot, and Benn has a comparable grit about him.
Damian Williams (6-1, 195) USC -> Austin Collie (6-0, 200) Indianapolis Colts: Collie may have only been a rookie last year, but his attention to detail in Peyton Manning's system caused him to have a standout campaign. His route-running is tremendous, which is the thing for which Williams is regularly praised. Good hands also form a common bond between the duo. They aren't necessarily athletic freaks, but they get the job done.
Jordan Shipley (6-0, 190) Texas -> Wes Welker (5-9, 185) New England Patriots:Shipley has the makeup to be Welker 2.0, a prototype slot receiver in the NFL. Welker has made a living out of being Tom Brady's security blanket, much like what Shipley did at Texas for colt McCoy. Their sticky hands, intelligence and versatility make it easy to line them up anywhere, but in the slot is where they can do the most damage. A reliable slot receiver is critical if you want to move the chains consistently.