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Ravens Eye WRs, But In 1st Round?


PLEASE NOTE:The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

Even though quarterbacks are a crap-shoot when drafting in the first round, wide receivers might not be that far behind when it comes to degree of difficulty.

The Ravens have had their share of troubles with the position in the past, but the same goes for all teams across the NFL, according to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr.

The reason? Kiper says most collegiate wideouts enter the league without pro-style experience.

"The NFL is a different ballgame, and a lot of these receivers cannot adjust to that," Kiper told media in a Wednesday conference call. "That's why it's hard to evaluate. You have to project. Can a wide receiver deal with NFL-like conditions? We don't know that until they get into the National Football League."

The Ravens spent a considerable amount of energy bolstering their receiving corps around quarterback **Joe Flacco** with proven veterans. Baltimore added veterans **Anquan Boldin*** *and **Donte' Stallworth**, and kept **Derrick Mason** in-house, as well.

That doesn't mean the Ravens are going to bypass taking another receiver in the first round.

Currently holding the 25th-overall selection, the Ravens could add a rookie prospect to develop under players who have done it before. Both Kiper and Todd McShay, the Worldwide Leader's other draftnik, have Georgia Tech's Demaryius Thomas landing in the Ravens' laps.

Thomas presents an interesting scenario.

At 6-foot-3, 224 pounds, Thomas is powerfully built in the mold of another former Yellow Jacket, Detroit's Calvin Johnson.
He has the statistics, as Thomas boasted 46 receptions for an ACC-leading 1,154 yards and eight touchdowns last season, averaging an impressive 25.1 yards per catch.

Thomas did fracture the fifth metatarsal in his left foot while training for the NFL Scouting Combine, but by all reports, he is well on the road to recovery.

Where teams balk at Thomas is his route-running, as he mainly ran vertical routes at Tech.

"A lot of teams like my route running ability," Thomas said at the Combine. "I want to show them I'm an athlete and can do some things. I can run any kind of route. We just didn't use them in the games."

If the Ravens do draft Thomas – or any other wideout in the first round – it likely won't be for immediate contributions.

And considering how challenging it is to find a star receiver in the draft, that might not be such a bad thing.

Here are some other receiving prospects that could be available with the Ravens' first- or second-round picks:

Golden Tate, Notre Dame
5-foot-10, 199 pounds
2009 Stats:93 rec., 1,496 yards, 15 touchdowns
The Skinny: Tate was one of the Irish's co-MVPs last season, teaming up with quarterback Jimmy Clausen to form a deadly passing attack. The compact threat has shown the will to fight for the first down or touchdown and battle through tacklers. His father was a standout receiver from Tennessee State and a draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts.

Damian Williams, USC
6-foot-1, 197 pounds
2009 Stats:70 rec., 1,010 yards, 6 touchdowns
The Skinny:Williams, a first-team All-Pac 10 honoree and USC team MVP, is known as a great route-runner, according to, and provides solid hands and quickness. The former Trojan can be an asset on special teams, as well, as he returned two punts for touchdowns and averaged 14.2 yards per attempt.

Arrelious Benn, Illinois
6-foot-2, 220 pounds
2009 Stats:38 rec., 490 yards, 2 touchdowns
The Skinny:Benn turned in a lackluster 2009 campaign that was plagued by injuries. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the first game, and that lingered throughout the season, along with head and thigh injuries. But, Benn was coming off a 1,055-yard year in 2008. He is known for his aggressiveness to go get the football and helped his case by running the 40 in 4.42 and 4.40 seconds at his Pro Day, according to

Brandon LaFell, LSU
6-foot-3, 211 pounds
2009 Stats: 57 rec., 792 yards, 11 touchdowns
The Skinny:As the Tigers' featured target last year, LaFell totaled the second-most touchdowns in a single season by a receiver in LSU history. LaFell has been praised for his blocking prowess and physicality, but his speed has been questioned. He ran a disappointing 4.58-second 40 at the Combine, and then just bettered that to 4.52 at his Pro Day.

Dexter McCluster, Mississippi
5-foot-9, 172 pounds
2009 Stats:44 rec., 520 yards, 3 receiving touchdowns, 181 rushes, 1,169 yards, 8 rushing touchdowns
The Skinny: Even though he is slightly built, McCluster is a game-breaking playmaker that draws comparisons to Percy Harvin, a rookie standout last year. McCluster is incredibly elusive with the ball in his hands, and those hands are reliable. The former Rebel could be an excellent slot receiver, while getting some touches in the backfield, as well.

Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
6-foot, 187 pounds
2009 Stats: 87 rec., 1,191 yards, 11 touchdowns
The Skinny:Gilyard is one of the most-determined players in the draft, having his scholarship revoked for poor grades and living in his car at times before rejoining the team in 2007. He gradually molded himself into a tremendous deep threat. His 87 catches set a school record. And, he can contribute on special teams, finishing his senior season with a 30.05-yard average on kickoff returns, of which he returned two for scores.


Taylor Price, Ohio (6-1, 204)
Carlton Mitchell, USF (6-3, 215)
Jacoby Ford, Clemson (5-9, 186)
Blair White, Michigan State(6-2, 209)
Eric Decker, Minnesota(6-3, 217)

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