Should Ravens Draft a 'Safe Bet' at Wide Receiver?
What the Ravens should do at wide receiver continues to be a hot topic among fans and pundits heading into the NFL Draft, which begins on April 25.
Ebony Bird's Chris Schisler divided wide receiver prospects into four tiers. His first tier ("safest bets") consisted of North Carolina State's Kelvin Harmon, Arizona State's N'Keal Harry, South Carolina's Deebo Samuel and Mississippi's A.J. Brown.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said at the NFL's Annual League Meetings in Phoenix earlier this week that when it comes to wide receivers, the Ravens "want rough guys, we want tough guys." Schisler believes the receivers in his top tier fit the bill.
"The one thing all of these receivers have in common [other than great production at the collegiate level] is that they are tough No. 1 receivers," Schisler wrote. "Harmon is the best receiver in this draft class in my estimation. Harmon is a good deep threat but where he really does his best work is the intermediate passing routes."
Schisler wrote that Harry would be a good fit because he "is the big-bodied receiver with the best catch radius. Lamar Jackson will get more accurate with Harry as his go-to receiver because accuracy isn't always required when you can catch pretty much anything."
Ebony Bird's Richard Bradshaw also views Harmon and Brown as safe bets and the type of receiver the Ravens, who have the 22nd overall pick, should draft. He cautioned that the Ravens should avoid drafting a "flashy receiver."
"The biggest mistake they could possibly make would be to go after the flashiest wide receiver," Bradshaw wrote. "We've seen in the past Baltimore make mistakes like this and take guys with all sorts of amazing traits. As we've seen time-and-time again, however, these guys burn out fast for the team."
Bradshaw said that Harmon and Brown "are so safe that they're boring to talk about, [but] why is that such a bad thing?
"What happened to taking the guy who does everything well but not great?" Bradshaw wrote. "The last time I can recall a wide receiver falling in the draft because of a lack of elite traits was Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints. I'd say that turned out pretty well."
Schisler's second tier of receivers in the draft ("cautious optimism") -- Oklahoma's Marquise Brown, Mississippi's D.K. Metcalf, Iowa State's Hakeem Butler and Ohio State's Parris Campbell -- are all "freak athletes that all have at least one major thing to be concerned about.
"These are the boom or bust players of the draft class," Schisler wrote. "D.K. Metcalf was the talk of the NFL Combine. He's built like a tank and he is incredibly fast. He also isn't a great route runner and wasn't overly productive at Ole Miss. [A.J.] Brown had 85 receptions in 2018 ,while the injury-prone Metcalf has had 67 receptions in three seasons."
Russell Street Report's Adam Bonaccorsi wrote that the Ravens' best option for drafting an impactful pass-catcher in the first round isn't even a wide receiver -- it's Iowa tight end Noah Fant.
Asserting that "the modern day version of a tight end isn't that far off from a wide receiver, Bonaccorsi wrote: "Fant, in my opinion, provides a greater value to the Ravens than any traditional receiver they'd snag at 22. He can rip the ball out of the air, provides Jackson with a big-bodied target, brings solid ability to block, works all over the field, and has some wheels to boot."
Acknowledging that the Ravens already have tight ends Hayden Hurst (a first-round draft pick last season), Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle on the roster, Bonaccorsi wrote: "Should the Ravens utilize a three-man tight end deployment on the field, or even a four-man, the mismatches would be easily identifiable and exploited. … For Lamar it would become a 'pick your poison' scenario on passing downs.
"Yes, I understand no other team is doing this. But no other team has a quarterback like the Ravens, and this offense needs to focus on chess, not checkers. Baltimore would make the ultimate power play to break the mold and draft Noah Fant as their fourth tight end to implement in a tight end-focused offense as a counter to tradition."
Torrey Smith Encourages Commitment to Baltimore's Youth
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith hasn't played for the Ravens since 2014, but he continues to return to Charm City every year to host his charity basketball game. The eighth annual Torrey Smith Family Fund Charity Basketball Game takes place on Saturday, March 30 at Royal Farms Arena.
Smith, whose charitable organization provides support for at-risk youth, took to the op-ed page of The Baltimore Sun yesterday to encourage companies in Baltimore to "take a hands-on approach to better the community."
"I've had mentors who showed me that I could one day be in their shoes," Smith wrote. "I've been exposed to situations that inspired me to be the best version of myself. I can't help but imagine a situation where the leaders of these companies could be just that for a group of students in the city — mentors and leaders to inspire them. Relationships matter!
"Many companies and individuals in Baltimore display this kind of commitment, but the students of Baltimore need more. Imagine the difference it would make for a student who is interested in jewelry to be exposed to the leaders at Pandora, or for a student who is interested in STEM to be exposed to BGE or Exelon. What would it look like if a student who is interested in business knew what type of work is happening at the World Trade Center in Baltimore? I know how powerful it is to truly invest in people and give them hope simply by giving them a look inside the doors."
Patriots Fans Rank Ravens Among Top AFC Challengers
Fans of the New England Patriots were asked which AFC teams would be the defending Super Bowl champion's top challengers this season in a poll on PatsPulpit.com, and the Ravens got a mention.
Not surprisingly, the Kansas City Chiefs, who lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game in overtime, were overwhelmingly chosen as the No. 1 threat to the Patriots' throne. The rest of the list: the Cleveland Browns ("the hype train is rolling full steam ahead"), Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and Ravens.
- NFL.com's Adam Rank named his top five rivalries for the 2019 NFL season. An AFC North rivalry took the No. 1 spot, but it's probably not the one Ravens fans think it should be.
- New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said he was frustrated with the departure of running back Mark Ingram, who signed with the Ravens after eight seasons in New Orleans.
- Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden said on NFL Total Access that head coach Mike Tomlin "has complete control of the team."