Opposing Views on Ravens' Draft Strategy for Wide Receivers
A pair of mock drafts came out yesterday and they couldn't be more different when looking at what the Ravens should do with their first three picks.
It's rare not to see the words "wide receiver" in any mention of the Ravens and their projected early-round selections, but that's the case in ESPN Senior Writer Todd McShay's mock draft, in which he broke down how every team can earn an "A" grade.
McShay, who constructed his draft on what he viewed as the best selection for each team "based on needs, value and availability," wrote that the Ravens should select Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell (Round 1, 22nd overall selection), Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams (Round 3, 85th) and New Mexico State inside linebacker Terrill Hanks (Round 3, 102nd) in the draft, which begins April 25 in Nashville.
With his first-round pick, Beaucage selected Mississippi wide receiver A.J. Brown.
"By drafting Brown, the Ravens seem to be getting a pretty good shot at landing a long-coveted stud receiver," Beaucage wrote. "Though Brown isn't getting the same hype as Ole Miss teammate D.K. Metcalf — who became a combine phenom after posting an incredible 40-yard dash time — it is Brown who may end up being the better pro. With rock solid hands, great open-field running ability and a sharp route tree, Brown profiles as a consummate NFL receiver."
For the Ravens' first third-round pick, Beaucage went with Texas A&M center Erik McCoy.
"The team will likely have a vacancy at guard in the near future with 34-year-old Marshal Yanda entering the twilight of his career," Beaucage wrote. "With McCoy — a four-year collegiate starter — having experience at [center and left guard], his flexibility could make him a unique and much-needed asset for the Ravens' offensive line."
It's worth noting that NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah's mock draft has McCoy going late in the first round. The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker also listed McCoy as a potential first-round target for the Ravens in his draft preview on offensive linemen.
Massachusetts wide receiver Andy Isabella was Beaucage's other third-round selection for the Ravens.
"Though he stands in at only 5-foot-9 and 188 pounds, Isabella makes up for it with a blazing 4.31 40-yard dash," Beaucage wrote. "In his time at Massachusetts, Isabella proved to be both an adept slot and downfield receiver and received national attention when he torched Georgia for 219 yards and two TDs on 15 receptions last season."
Contrary to Beaucage's sentiment that Isabella's size shouldn't be an issue for the Ravens, Sports Illustrated's Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling believe size just might matter.
"Whoever they find must have enough girth and toughness to block; offensive coordinator Greg Roman's creative run designs can't flourish unless defenders are handled on the perimeter," wrote Benoit and Gramling, who assessed that wide receiver is the Ravens' biggest need. "This doesn't mean the Ravens need big receivers, per se, but they could shy away from small receivers."
Burning Draft Question for Ravens
Speaking of the Ravens and wide receivers, NFL.com analyst Elliot Harrison came up with "one burning question for each AFC team" regarding the draft, and -- surprise! -- his question for the Ravens is: "Which playmaking receivers will be available at No. 22?"
"The Ravens might have one of the top players at that position fall to them," Harrison wrote. "More importantly: At some point, Lamar Jackson is going to have to beat teams downfield. Not just occasionally, but on the reg. This group went after three WRs in free agency last year. Willie Snead is the only one left.
"It's time to inject that spot with youth ... and top-shelf talent. How about a freakish athletic specimen like D.K. Metcalf? Or a playmaking dynamo like Marquise Brown? It's not hard to imagine the board falling in a way where Baltimore has its pick of the WR litter."
Benoit and Gramling wrote: "The Ravens will have a shot at a big receiver, whether it's super-sized slot receiver A.J. Brown of Ole Miss, contested-catch artist N'Keal Harry of Arizona State, or the hulking Hakeem Butler of Iowa State. All of them will be assets blocking in the run game."
Ravens Second Most Likely to Trade Down
In keeping with today's draft theme, there's been much speculation among NFL pundits that the Ravens will trade down in the first round. In ESPN's Dan Graziano's rankings of teams most likely to make trades, he has the Ravens as the second-most likely to trade down.
"The Ravens … are always on the lookout for a deal," Graziano wrote. "They need to fill a lot of holes on defense, and if the high-impact guys are drying up by No. 22, Baltimore has shown that it's nimble enough in the draft to slide down a couple of spots and maximize value."
At the Ravens' pre-draft press conference, General Manager Eric DeCosta acknowledged the team's penchant for manufacturing picks and said this year's draft is a deep one.
"If the opportunity is there, we'll have a chance to trade back and accumulate picks," DeCosta said. "In this draft, if you can accumulate some additional picks, you've got a really good chance to help your team."
In NFL.com analyst Charley Casserly's most recent mock draft, he has the Ravens trading their 22nd overall pick for the Philadelphia Eagles' 25th. In that scenario, Casserly predicts the Ravens select Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown.
Did Antonio Brown Put Twitter War to Rest?
In the latest -- and perhaps final development -- in the Twitter war between Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown and his former teammate, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, Brown tweeted what appears to be the denouement of the saga.
"Finally, Brown is apparently ready to put this 48-hour fight to rest, NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman wrote. "For us media fakes, the wideout's Twitter silence will be a welcome respite."
- WBAL did a story on inmates helping to train dogs that will one day help a veteran or first responder. The piece focused on a dog called Raven, who was named by the Ravens. The team sponsors her through a program with America's VetDogs.