Hortiz: Wide Receiver Class is Deep

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With the Scouting Combine on deck and NFL Draft around the corner, BR.com's Ryan Mink sat down with Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz for a lengthy conversation on drafting wide receivers. Check back over the course of the next week for stories and blogs from that interview.

Many NFL Draft analysts are saying there is only one wide receiver worthy of a first-round draft pick (Dez Bryant) and that he'll be long gone by the 25th pick.

For all you fans praying for the Ravens to draft an impact wideout, you'll be happy to know that – historically speaking – there have been high-caliber receivers available beyond the first round. In particular, the second round has been a good place to find a valuable wide receiver.

And Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz thinks this year will be no different.

"Dez Bryant is a talent, but he's not the only receiver in the draft," Hortiz said. "Whether it's in the first round, or the second round or the third round, I think there are good receivers to get out there."

"Wide receiver is definitely one of the [classes] that stands out. This is a good receiver class. This is a good draft class, overall."

Of the 64 starting wide receivers in the NFL in 2009, 21 were picked in the first round. But there are also 16 starters who were selected in the second round. That's one-fourth of the starting receivers.

And considering that first-round picks are paid much more than second-rounders, the second round has great value and fewer "busts," Hortiz claimed.

"You see a higher-percentage of misses in the first round that stand out because they're taken because they're fast, they're big – potential," Hortiz said.

"You can get a really good player in the second round of the draft. There are a lot of receivers that come [into the draft] year in and year out. So yeah, I think you can get a bargain in the second round."

Several wide receivers projected to go in the second or third round this year, according to NFLDraftScout.com , are Arrelious Benn of Illinois, Damian Williams of Southern California, Dexter McCluster of Ole Miss and Jordan Shipley of Texas.

Among the notable second-round starters are Carolina's Steve Smith, New York's Steve Smith, Arizona's Anquan Boldin, Cincinnati's Chad Ochocinco, San Diego's Vincent Jackson, Minnesota's Sidney Rice and Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson - all of who are Pro Bowlers.

Of the top 10 players in receiving yards in 2009, three were picked in the first round (Texans' Andre Johnson, Colts' Reggie Wayne and Steelers' Santonio Holmes). Three of the top 10 were drafted in the second round (Rice, Smith and Jackson).

After the second round, the number of NFL starters drops off. There are eight NFL starters drafted in the third round, six in the fourth round and one in the fifth round.

Somewhat surprisingly, five starters were taken in the seventh round and six went undrafted. Typically, the reason is because the receiver is from a smaller school or is lacking in an essential evaluation category such as size or speed.

Two prime examples are the Saints' Marques Coltson, who came out of Hofstra in the seventh round, and the Patriots' Wes Welker, who is 5-foot-9 and went undrafted.* *

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