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No A.J. Green-Type Receiver In This Year's Draft Class


Ravens fans clamoring for an elite wide receiver prospect at the top of this year's draft shouldn't hold their breath.

This may be the year where a wide receiver isn't even taken in the top 10 picks.

"Relative to recent drafts, there's a drop-off at wide receiver," said Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz. "I think we've benefitted from two outstanding [receiver] classes the previous two seasons. If you want to say the weakest [position group in this class], I would say that."

There has been a wide receiver selected in the top 10 each of the past five drafts. In 2011, the Bengals selected A.J. Green at No. 4 overall and the Falcons took Julio Jones at No. 6.

This year, there just isn't that kind of talent available to the Ravens.

"There's good players there," Hortiz said. "Is there an A.J. Green in this year's draft? No. But there's been an A.J. Green in one draft. Those guys just don't come around that often. It is what it is."

The 2014 draft was another good one for wide receivers.

Five went in the first round and three posted more than 1,000 receiving yards in their rookie season (New York Giants' Odell Beckham Jr., Tampa Bay's Mike Evans and Carolina's Kelvin Benjamin). The other two receivers in that first-round class (Buffalo's Sammy Watkins and New Orleans' Brandin Cooks) both topped 1,000 yards in their second seasons.

This year, Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell is projected by most draftniks as the top receiver in the class, followed by Baylor's Corey Coleman, Ohio State's Michael Thomas and TCU's Josh Doctson.

In many mock drafts, Treadwell is on the fringe of the top 10. His decision not to run the 40-yard dash at the combine could hurt his stock considering his speed is the biggest question.

"Yeah, everyone would love an A.J. Green or Julio Jones, but the reality of it is they don't come out every year," Hortiz said. "What you do is take advantage of the opportunity you have no matter where you're picking, and you take the best player. And when we're at No. 6 we'll take the best player and he'll come in and impact the Ravens."

General Manager Ozzie Newsome made it clear at the season-ending press conference that he wants to add one or two wide receivers to the roster this offseason, whether via the draft or free agency.

Hortiz said there will be wide receiver options in the middle and later rounds.

"There's going to be plenty of guys," he said. "It has depth, not the volume of elite skillset players. There are certainly elite players up there, you're just not going to have a Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Kelvin Benjamin all go in the first round and all be highly productive rookie receivers."

The Ravens already feel like they have a first-round rookie wide receiver on the roster.

Last year, Baltimore drafted Breshad Perriman out of Central Florida at pick No. 26. He missed his entire rookie year due to a knee injury suffered on the first day of training camp, but is expected to be back to full health by the start of offseason workouts.

"I think we got a really great receiver last year. I really do," Hortiz said. "I think Breshad is going to be awesome for us. It's really unfortunate the circumstances he had to go through this year, and hopefully it pays off this year. It'll be like having another first-round pick."

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