John Harbaugh: Drafting A Wide Receiver Is A 'Crapshoot'


Last year, the NFL's wide receiver class was regarded as one of the best in a long time.

Five receivers were drafted in the first round. Three of those five put up more than 1,000 yards. In all, there was a whopping 33 wide receivers taken.

The Ravens opted to leap into the fray at the last minute, trading back into the draft after they used all their original selections, to select Michael Campanaro in the seventh round.

This year, there's a lot of talk about the Ravens selecting a wide receiver much earlier – in the first round. But once again, the Ravens don't feel like they have to jump in early to find success.

Harbaugh said the Ravens have done studies on the success rate different positions have in different rounds. What they've found at receiver doesn't make them feel antsy to pull the trigger.

"Receiver is a little bit of a crapshoot in the first round," Harbaugh said. "Turns out, it's a crapshoot in every round.

"There have been seventh-round picks, fifth-round picks, third-round picks that have turned out to be Hall of Fame-type players. Then you have first-round picks that have never really done anything. Obviously the chances are higher the higher you pick a guy, but it's hard to predict."

The Ravens have just twice taken a receiver in the first round, with Travis Taylor in 2000 Mark Clayton in 2005. Clayton was a consistent starter for five years in Baltimore, but never topped 1,000 yards and averaged 623 receiving yards and scored 12 touchdowns. Similarly, Taylor was a five-year starter and also never reached the century 1,000-yard milestone.

Baltimore hasn't drafted a receiver higher than the sixth round since 2011, when it made the franchise's most successful pick at the position with Torrey Smith in the second round.

With Smith now in San Francisco, the Ravens could use another quality selection in this year's draft. Luckily, it's another class full of talent.

"I think it's really good," Harbaugh said of the 2015 receiver class at the NFL Owners Meetings. "The wide receiver draft class is deep. I think there are options for the Ravens rounds one through seven in the draft."

The first-round names that have been associated with the Ravens are Arizona State's Jaelen Strong, Central Florida's Breshad Perriman, Miami's Phillip Dorsett, Ohio State's Devin Smith and Southern California's Nelson Agholor.

Here are some options in the later rounds that could be of interest:

Sammie Coates, Auburn (Round 2)Coates is a big-bodied (6-foot-1, 212 pounds) burner. He looks the part of an elite receiver. Coates put up 902 receiving yards as a sophomore, then 741 as a junior. He has had problems with drops, but he still has scary potential every time he lines up.

Tyler Lockett, Kansas State (Round 2-3)The senior was impressive at the Senior Bowl, as he has fantastic speed and route running. He's not big at 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, but he plays bigger than his size. Lockett holds 17 school records, including breaking his father's career marks for catches (249), yards (3,710) and touchdowns (29).

Justin Hardy, East Carolina (Round 3)Hardy is in the mold of Lockett, a smaller-framed, highly productive receiver. The former walk-on has an edge to his game. He's extremely quick and has very sticky hands that have made some circus catches. Hardy is known for having strong practice habits, and competes on every snap.

Stefon Diggs, Maryland (Round 3-4)Diggs is another speed merchant with homerun potential every time he touches the ball. He's also a dynamic special teams returner, who could help offset the loss of Jacoby Jones. Diggs has trained with Smith this offseason. Injuries have been a concern.

DaVaris Daniels, Notre Dame (Round 7)Daniels was expected to be Notre Dame's top receiver last season, but after an investigation into academic fraud, he was suspended for 2014. He still entered the draft, and could be a late bargain. Daniels had 49 catches for 745 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore.

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