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Late For Work 5/2: Watch For Six WRs To Be Plucked In First Round


Watch For Six WRs To Be Plucked In First Round

The 2014 draft class is loaded with wide receivers, and well-respected NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock predicts a big run on them in the first round of next week's draft.

He sees six receivers coming off the board in the first 32 picks: Clemson's Sammy Watkins, Texas A&M's Mike Evans, LSU's Odell Beckham, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, Florida State's* *Kelvin Benjamin and USC's Marqise Lee.

The question is: Will the Ravens come away with one of them at No. 17?

The clamor for the Ravens to draft a wide receiver in the first round has quieted with the signings of Steve Smith, Sr. and Jacoby Jones. Despite bigger immediate needs at right tackle and safety, analysts still expect Ravens brass to grab a pass catcher, and the first round is not off the table.

"Watkins and Evans should be the first two," Mayock said Thursday. "I think the next two are going to be wideouts that two months ago people wouldn't have said would go so early, and that's Odell Beckham of LSU and Brandin Cooks from Oregon State."

If the Ravens plan on using their first-rounder on a pass catcher, Watkins and Evans are expected to go in the top 10 and are likely out of the question. At least two or more of the others could still be around, however.

Mayock sees Beckham and Cooks being drafted between picks 13-20, and then Benjamin and Lee would come into play after that.

"Beckham is an explosive kid with return skills, gets in and out of breaks as well as any receiver in the draft," he said. "Cooks is a smaller receiver, but maybe the most explosive receiver in the entire group. He also is a good route-runner."

If the Ravens do pass on a receiver in Round 1, you can still expect the team to grab one later in the draft, according to General Manager Ozzie Newsome. And it could still be a high-quality athlete, given the depth of the 2014 class.

"I would say that's a position where you could probably draft a player in any of the seven rounds, and I think our board stacks that way," Newsome said Wednesday. "If there is an opportunity for us to add another receiver, we will definitely do it based on the way our board is stacked right now."

Ray Rice Avoids Jail Time, Faces Next Hurdle

One thing we learned after Ray Rice's day in court Thursday is the Ravens' running back will likely avoid jail time.

In addition to pleading not guilty to the aggravated assault charges he faces as a result of an altercation with his then-fiancée and current wife, Rice applied for a pretrial intervention program. He could also accept a plea agreement.

Either route would not require time in prison.

The pretrial intervention program would likely allow Rice to avoid formal prosecution, especially as a first-time offender. He would not have a criminal record if approved, which will likely be decided in the next couple weeks. If he is not approved for the program, he could accept the plea agreement offered by the state that would only require probation and anger management counseling. His next court date is scheduled for May 29 if he is not accepted into the program.

The case would only go to trial if Rice is not approved for the program and chose not to accept a plea deal from prosecutors. 

"He's very remorseful for the actions that happened that night," said Rice's attorney Michael Diamondstein, who can be seen in the WJZ video below. "He loves Janay and he wants to move forward.

"He's done a tremendous amount for the Baltimore community, for children. This was a momentary lapse of reason. What's he remorseful for? That he let himself down. That he let his wife down. That he let the community down, that he made a mistake. We're all human beings, and on that evening for a number of different reasons he acted out of his character. He's ashamed of his conduct, he's sorry for what he did, he wishes to move on with his life."

While Rice "probably breathed a sigh of relief" after court proceedings Thursday, says ESPN's Jamison Hensley, he still has another big hurdle with the NFL.

Even if Rice avoids prosecution, he is still expected to be punished (likely by suspension) by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell under the league's personal conduct policy. The policy states that it isn't enough to avoid being found guilty, and a higher standard is expected of NFL employees.

"Translation: If you tarnish the shield, you're going to get disciplined for it," wrote Hensley.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger became the first person suspended by Goodell without being arrested or charged of a crime, unlike Rice. Roethlisberger was suspended for six games (later reduced to four) in 2010 when a 20-year-old college student accused him of sexual assault.

Rice has a strong reputation (he's never been involved in an off-the-field incident prior to this) that will likely be considered in the NFL's decision.

The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson recounts the history of first-time personal conduct violators, noting that suspension for one to two games is the precedent. Hensley adds that he can't see it being more than four games.

"What the Ravens need to prepare for is not having Rice for the start of the season, which is a critical stretch for the team," Hensley wrote. "The Ravens begin the season with three games against AFC North teams in the first three weeks of the regular season. Losing Rice for any portion of these games will hurt the team's standing in the division." 

Chances Ravens Draft O-Line In Top 3 Rounds

The chances of the Ravens taking an offensive lineman in the first three rounds are "high," says The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec, who continues his position-by-position Ravens draft analysis.

Right tackle is one of the most pressing needs heading into the season, with second-year player Rick Wagner currently tabbed as the starter. With Wagner having limited time on the field as rookie, Zrebiec sees the Ravens using one of their top picks to add competition.

"[W]hile they are high on Wagner, the reshaping of the offensive line won't be viewed as complete until they add a right tackle. The good news for them is the draft is pretty deep at offensive tackle with as many as six possibly going in the first round.

"Unless they move up significantly in the first round, which they usually don't do, the Ravens won't be in play for Auburn's Greg Robinson or Texas A&M's Jake Matthews. … There's also the possibility that the Ravens wait and try to draft one of the second or third tier tackles, which would be a show of confidence in Wagner."

Quick Hits

  • "Would the Ravens trade up to get either Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin**or North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron?" asked Clifton Brown. "Just a hunch on my part, but I think those two players are coveted enough by the Ravens to consider trading up for." []
  • @RavensSalaryCap: (1/2) If suspended, Ray* *Rice will lose $235,294 in base salary per game of suspension. Ravens will receive Cap credit for each game suspended. … Ravens would also have right to seek Bonus forfeiture for time suspended up to $750K. [Twitter]
  • Offensive lineman Jah Reid has been assigned a June 4 court date in his pending misdemeanor battery case in Key West, Fla. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • @LWebb21: Happy to announce our first Home Run Derby Participant @TeamFlacco for our Derby! Get tixx at [Twitter]
  • @richarddeitsch: Both ESPN and the NFL Network say their reporters will not pre-report pick by pick selections on Twitter during Round 1 of the NFL Draft. [Twitter]
  • @JasonHButt: Michael McCrary will announce team's second-round pick, according to NFL press release. [Twitter]
  • @untouchablejay4 Terrell Suggs]: WoW! My [brother has become my enemy!RT @Artj97: Man i love my new team. We war ready!!   #coltsnation @Colts [Twitter]
  • @untouchablejay4: ALWAYS MY DUDE!!! RT @Artj97: @untouchablejay4  lol I thought I never see the day either.  I'll always have love for you and my boys. Lol [Twitter]
  • @Ravens: Congrats to #Ravens photographer @shawn_hubbard who earned honorable mention in the @ProFootballHOF's photo contest. [Twitter]
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