For nearly all of the mock-draft season, Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been the most popular pick for the Ravens at No. 16.
But as the NFL draft draws near, the buzz around Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore has become a din.
And now, one of the biggest names among draft analysts sees Moore as being a better fit for Baltimore than Ridley.
“Ridley is an outside guy only, even though he runs great routes and his acceleration and burst is tremendous. I struggle with him inside,” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said.
“I think D.J. Moore has a little bit more versatility, plus he's a return guy. So I kind of like D.J. Moore a little bit more than Ridley for Baltimore.”
On paper, Ridley and Moore have similar resumes. They’re both 6-foot-0. Moore has more muscle, weighing in at 210 pounds versus 189 for Ridley.
Ridley ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds and put up 15 bench press reps. Moore ran it in 4.42 seconds and also had 15 reps. Moore’s vertical and broad jump was far better than Ridley’s, but the Alabama wideout had a better three-cone drill.
Moore had one year of big production, putting up 80 catches for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Ridley topped 1,000 yards as a freshman and posted 63 grabs for 967 yards and five touchdowns last season.
One difference is, as Mayock pointed out, that Moore returns punts. He returned 15 for 153 yards (10.2 per return) last season. The Ravens lost last year’s returner, Michael Campanaro, in free agency to the Tennessee Titans.
“When he gets the ball in his hands, he's special,” Mayock said. “This kid might not give you as much early because he's a little bit raw, but he's built like a running back.”
The Ravens may not need a huge contribution from any rookie wide receiver this year, as they already have Michael Crabtree, John “Smokey” Brown and Willie Snead, who signed an offer sheet last week and the New Orleans Saints reportedly declined to match. Chris Moore, Breshad Perriman and others will compete for snaps as well.
Ideally, Mayock thinks it would be best for Baltimore to trade back and draft Moore. Whether that’s a possibility remains to be seen. In their latest joint mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have Ridley off the board at No. 14 to the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore taking Moore at No. 16.
“I think it's a little bit early for either of them at 16; they're more 20 to 30 type players,” Mayock said. “But I think Moore would be the better fit long term in Baltimore.”