No wide receiver at the NFL Combine ran faster than Parris Campbell, and the Ravens want more explosiveness in their offense.
Does that make Campbell and the Ravens a draft match? Some people think so. After watching Campbell run a 4.31 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network had the Ravens taking Campbell at No. 22.
"Look for the Ravens to build a track team around Lamar Jackson," Jeremiah wrote. "Campbell had an outstanding workout at the Combine, displaying mature route-running skills."
Jeremiah's comments about Campbell's route-running is important. People aren't questioning his speed after he tied Andy Isabella of UMass for the fastest Combine time among wide receivers. However, to make an immediate impact with the Ravens or anyone else, Campbell will need more to his arsenal than just deep routes.
Former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. could run any route effectively. And after watching Campbell at the Combine, Smith came away impressed.
"This kid showed out in every aspect," Smith wrote on NFL.com. "It was liked he walked into Lucas Oil Stadium and proclaimed his excellence before doing a thing: 'My name is Parris Campbell. Beware.'… His versatility will allow his skill to translate to the next level."
However, not everyone is convinced Campbell will be a first-round pick. Many mock drafts have him going in the second round. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay of ESPN both have Campbell going at No. 46 to the Washington Redskins in their latest mock drafts.
Campbell caught 90 passes for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns last year as a senior at Ohio State, and he wasn't just a deep-ball target. He ran the ball on reverses and jet sweeps. He lined up both wide, and in the slot. The Buckeyes often got the ball quickly to him, allowing him to put running ability to use. With teams focused on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens' run-option rushing attack, a wide receiver who can stress the edge running the ball could be quite effective.
A former high school running back, Campbell is a serious run-after-catch threat. Just ask Michigan and Jim Harbaugh, as Campbell put up six catches for 192 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State's chief rival.
Some of the big plays Campbell had at Ohio State came on short throws that he turned into long gains. Because he didn't play wide receiver until college, Campbell believes he's scratching the surface of his potential.
"I think my ceiling is high for the position," Campbell said. "I made the transition when I got to college. It was a struggle for me early on, but I continued to work."
Campbell said his ability to anticipate open areas improved this season from working with Brian Hartline, Ohio State's wide receiver coach. Hartline had 344 career catches, playing primarily for the Miami Dolphins.
"He brought a whole new aspect to my game," Campbell said. "I'm confident in my ability to read defenses now and just looking for little tells."
This is a deep wide receiver class, making it harder to predict which ones will end up where. But when asked at the Combine why a team should draft him, Campbell gave the kind of response coaches want to hear.
"No matter what team drafts me, I'm coming in to help the team win," Campbell said. "I'm coming in with a leadership mindset. I'm a guy that's going to do what you ask of me. I'm going to work hard. I'm not going to say a whole lot. I'm not going to debate. There's not going to be me asking questions and pushing away coaches. I'm going to be a leader and I'm going to have a great attitude about it."