Drafting a Standout Wide Receiver Is No Easy Feat
Even though the Ravens have several needs heading into the draft, wide receiver is the one that's mentioned most often. It's not just because the Ravens are thin at the position; it's also because the team has had little success at drafting and developing wide receivers.
As ESPN’s Jamison Hensley pointed out, drafting a standout wide receiver actually is difficult for any organization.
"Baltimore has to use multiple picks on wide receivers because the odds are stacked against landing standout ones," Hensley wrote. "Over the past 10 drafts, 19 of the 125 wide receivers taken in the first three rounds have reached a Pro Bowl. That's just a 15 percent success rate."
"Historically, [the tough transition for wide receivers] has been true," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Then there's always a rookie or two every year that proves it wrong. Hopefully, we'll get that rookie. But it's tough."
Hensley noted that NFL Network analyst and former NFL General Manager Charley Casserly once did a study on why so many wide receivers struggle to make the transition from college to the NFL.
"The biggest reason why receivers fail of the higher-round picks was the inability to separate," Casserly said. "A lot of times in college, you don't have to separate from anybody. You face a lot of zone coverages and soft coverages and the corners who cover man aren't good. In college, you don't face a lot of tight coverage. Especially with bigger receivers, but they couldn't separate."
Casserly, by the way, said on Glenn Clark Radio that he believes the Ravens will trade back in the first round and select Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown.
In Cris Collinsworth’s mock draft for Pro Football Focus, he has the Ravens picking Georgia wide receiver Ryan Ridley.
"Ridley is the most complete and polished receiver in this draft," Collinsworth wrote. "Very clever routes, tremendous fundamentals at the break point and has tremendous hands. He will get a lot of single coverage with Lamar Jackson's running skills and he always seems to find a way to get open. Not great speed, but you will never be sorry you have Ridley on your team."
Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf was, by far, the most popular projection to the Ravens at No. 22 in our latest edition of Mock Draft Monitor.
The Ravens likely need an immediate impact from whatever rookie wide receiver(s) they draft. Can they find the needle in the haystack? We'll see.
Here are the comps and scouting reports for this year's top wide receivers from NFL.com's Lance Zierlein.
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah Learned From Working Under Ozzie Newsome
Daniel Jeremiah will work his first NFL Draft since taking over as NFL Network's lead draft analyst after Mike Mayock left the position to become Oakland Raiders General Manager several months ago. Thus, Jeremiah reflected on his humble beginnings as a personnel assistant with the Ravens in an interview with The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia.
Jeremiah, who joined the Ravens in 2003, was a member of the organization's 20/20 club – as in 20-something years old with a salary around $20K. Other former members of the club include Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz.
"On some days, 20 also came close to representing the number of hours in the office," Kapadia wrote of Jeremiah's two years as a personnel assistant before he was promoted to West Coast scout. "Jeremiah remembers getting to the facility at 6:30 a.m. on Mondays and staying until 1 or 2 the next morning. Tuesdays weren't so bad. He'd be out of there by 11 p.m. or midnight. And by the end of the week, he could ease up with a 12- or 13-hour day.
"The payoff for the long hours was an opportunity to learn the ropes and break into scouting for a successful franchise. General manager Ozzie Newsome welcomed input from everyone, regardless of title. It didn't matter that Jeremiah's role put him at the bottom of the organizational totem pole. On Mondays after games, the entire personnel staff would watch the film together. Jeremiah was assigned a position to watch and asked to explain his evaluations."
"That was my scouting education was for two years sitting in those meetings and watching tape with those guys, listening to what they saw," Jeremiah told Kapadia.
One of Jeremiah's duties with the Ravens was being on headset during the draft and calling in the picks.
Jeremiah got his foot in the door with the Ravens by volunteering to do a series of odd jobs for the team at the 2003 Combine – such as saving seats at player weigh-ins and making sure the Ravens' interview room was filled with everyone's favorite drinks and snacks – as a sort of an informal interview, he told Kapadia.
Jeremiah ended up taking over the personnel assistant job from current Philadelphia Eagles Vice President of Player Personnel Joe Douglas after Douglas was promoted to an area scout position. After four years with Baltimore, Jeremiah left to become the national scout for the Cleveland Browns in 2007 and later worked as a West Coast scout for the Eagles before joining NFL Network as an analyst in 2012.
Clelin Ferrell a Popular Pick for Ravens at No. 22
Some mock drafts that came out yesterday have Clemson edge rusher Clelin Ferrell going to the Ravens at No. 22, including one by NBC Sports’ Peter King.
"New England hopes Ferrell falls 10 more spots, but he won't," King wrote. "Ferrell is an ideal building block on a defensive front that needs a new star."
In The Los Angeles Times' beat writers mock draft, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec goes with Ferrell for the Ravens.
"The Ravens lost Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith this offseason and their defense is predicated on being aggressive and getting pressure on the quarterback. Matthew Judon is their only established pass rusher, so this is a case where one of the best players available matches up with their biggest need," Zrebiec wrote. "Ferrell had 21 sacks and 38 tackles for loss over his final two college seasons, so he should step in and contribute immediately."
Penn Live’s Aaron Kasinitz also selected Ferrell for The Ravens at No. 22
"Ferrell was easily the best outside linebacker option remaining in our simulation when the Ravens got on the clock," Kasinitz wrote.
Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler ranked the Ravens' top 10 options at No. 22 and went with Ferrell at No. 1.
"Ferrell is the most common sense replacement of Terrell Suggs," Schisler wrote. "He's a big, thick-framed outside linebacker who will be dominant off the edge. He's solid against the run and he's good at getting to the quarterback. He's got the production, he passes the eye test and the measurables match the eye test. Ferrell could be one of the best players in the entire NFL in a few years."
A couple weeks ago, ESPN draft expert Todd McShay put together a best-case scenario three-round mock draft and had the Ravens selecting Ferrell at No. 22.
"Clelin is just a really good football player," McShay told BaltimoreRavens.com. "You look at his [Combine testing] numbers and he doesn't have the elite explosiveness, but he got better every year, his production was outstanding. Did he benefit from having two other potential first-rounders on the defensive line at Clemson? Sure. But he still had to produce and he did, week in and week out."
Mark Ingram, Lamar Jackson Will Need Time to Develop Chemistry
Running back Mark Ingram, who played with a classic drop-back passer in Drew Brees for eight seasons in New Orleans, acknowledged in an article written by Kasinitz that playing in a read-option offense with Lamar Jackson will be a learning process.
"The read-option plays aren't entirely unfamiliar to Ingram," Kasinitz wrote. "Nearly every NFL team, including the Saints, incorporated some sort of run-pass-option plays into their base offense last season and New Orleans would occasionally put Taysom Hill behind center to throw a curveball to defenses.
"But that was just a wrinkle in New Orleans' playbook, Ingram said, that gave him 'a small taste' of that type of offense. The Ravens are planning to construct their entire attack around Jackson's speed and a dynamic running game that includes a steady dose of read-option plays."
Kasinitz quoted Ingram as saying that he'll "have to develop timing, patience and chemistry with Jackson to help the offense click."
"It's just repetition," Ingram said, "just developing a camaraderie and a relationship where we trust each other."
By the way, MMQB's Albert Breer thinks the Ravens could still add a first-round running back to the mix. Even though he has Baltimore picking Oklahoma guard/tackle Cody Ford in his latest mock draft, Breer thinks Baltimore could draft Alabama’s Josh Jacobs.
"There's been some buzz on Metcalf here. And the Ravens have needs on defense," Breer wrote. "But more than anything, I've heard they're going to continue to build up the run game around Lamar Jackson, even after spending on Mark Ingram. So I wouldn't rule out Josh Jacobs here. Or a big, nasty offensive lineman."
- It appears that Joe Flacco will not have a rookie looking over his shoulder in Denver. like he did last year in Baltimore. "I'm hearing that the Broncos will not be taking a quarterback in the first round. Instead, they are more likely to roll the dice with Joe Flacco and attend to other needs. If Denver doesn't go defense here, which is a possibility, it could go with tight end T.J.] Hockenson. But I'm also told Michigan ILB Devin Bush is in play,” [McShay wrote when delivering the latest draft buzz.
- Pawject Runway, featuring Ronnie Stanley, Nick Boyle, Chris Moore, Patrick Onwuasor, several former Ravens and their pets, is coming to Royal Farms Arena on April 27 and tickets are on sale now.