Mike Mayock Predicts Wide Receiver For Ravens In Round 1

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The Ravens haven't drafted a wide receiver in the first round since 2005.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock thinks this is the year the non-WR streak snaps.

"If you were just to kind of say put a gun to my head right now, I'd say wide receiver makes the most sense," Mayock said on a conference call Monday afternoon.

"I think it will be deep enough to get a good football player in the first or second round."

In recent years, the Ravens have bolstered their wide receiver corps with veterans such as Steve Smith Sr. (who led the team in catches and receiving yards last year), Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason.

The Ravens drafted Torrey Smith in the second round in 2011, but that's the only receiver they've taken in the top two rounds since Clayton in 2005.

Mostly, it's been later-round picks such as Marcus Smith and Justin Harper (4th and 6th rounds, 2008), David Reed (5th, 2010), Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss (2nd and 4th, 2011), Tommy Streeter (6th, 2012), Aaron Mellette (7th, 2013), and Michael Campanaro (7th, 2014).

While the Ravens currently have strong depth at wide receiver thanks to a promising rookie campaign from Campanaro, emergence of Kamar Aiken and solid play of Marlon Brown, Mayock feels they should look at adding a "special" receiver.

"Torrey Smith is a free agent, Steve Smith Sr.  is 36 years old, so there are a couple of unknowns there," Mayock said.

"Wide receiver at least has to be in your mind especially because it's a good wide receiver class. Whenever you get a chance to get a special skilled position player, you've got to be looking at it. So that's why I look at wide receivers as a potential for Baltimore."

There are several wide receivers that could make sense at No. 26, where the Ravens are picking in the first round. And they all have big bodies and good speed.

Mayock said Arizona State's Jaelen Strong is a second-round pick who could evolve into a late first-round pick if he runs a fast 40-yard dash time or if a team "falls in love with him." Strong is a 6-foot-3, 212-pound prospect who posted 82 catches for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns last year.

"He has the physical traits, height, weight, speed of Larry Fitzgerald, when he came out of the University of Pittsburgh," Mayock said. "That doesn't mean he's anywhere close to him from a technique perspective. He's really raw. But he's strong, very strong hands, big body."

Michigan's Devin Funchess is another player that has been linked to Baltimore in mock drafts. Funchess has a massive 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame and caught 62 passes for 733 yards and four scores when moving from tight end to receiver last season.

"He's not even 21 years old yet. He's going to continue to grow," Mayock said. "I think he's got better movement skills than Kelvin Benjamin who went 28th, I think it was, last year to Carolina. I'm looking at him as a wideout which is what he wants to be."

Mayock said he expects Funchess to be almost as big and run faster than Benjamin did a year ago. Instead of being focused on a position, Mayock said "I think you have to look at him as a mismatch and evaluate him that way."

Oklahoma's Dorial Green-Beckham is ranked as Mayock's fourth-best wide receiver, but is also a "wild card" because he's had off-the-field troubles. He was dismissed by Missouri after an allegation of violence against a female and for his involvement in a burglary investigation, and transferred to Oklahoma.

The last time the 6-foot-6, 225-pounder played was in 2013, when he caught 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns.

"Dorial Green-Beckham is as gifted as anybody in this class, but you better do your homework off the field," Mayock said.

Another wide receiver seemingly moving up draft boards into the first round is Central Florida's Breshad Perriman. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound receiver caught 50 passes for 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

"I put the Perriman tape on about three weeks ago and I almost fell over," Mayock said, adding that he needs to catch the ball consistently and run a good 40-yard dash time around 4.50 seconds to be considered a first-round pick.

The draft's top three wide receivers – Alabama's Amari Cooper, West Virginia's Kevin White and Louisville's DeVante Parker – are "consensus top-20 picks" according to Mayock, and thus wouldn't be available for the Ravens unless they traded up.

Mayock identified some other second-round wide receivers, such as Ohio State's Devin Smith (one of the fastest and best at tracking the deep ball), Auburn's Sammie Coates (another speedster who needs to show more consistency catching the ball) and Miami's Phillip Dorsett (maybe the fastest player in the entire draft).

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