Ravens Working on Wideouts

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Many NFL Draft analysts, reporters and fans alike are predicting the Ravens will take a receiver with their first-round pick.

Currently sitting at No. 26 with a need for another playmaking wideout, it's not too far-fetched of an idea.

Even though top prospects Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin should be gone by then, there is a bevy of talent that could pique the Ravens' interest.

Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, Hakeem Nicks of UNC, Percy Harvin from Florida and Rutgers' Kenny Britt are all projected to be available in that late-first round, early-second area.

In this time of stealth gamesmanship, everything a franchise says or does must be taken with a grain of salt. But still, the Ravens are delving deeper into their evaluation of those players.

Nicks, the former Tar Heel, met with team officials Friday in Owings Mills. Nicks even chatted with QB Joe Flacco for a few minutes.

"He can really throw the football," Nicks said of the strong-armed quarterback. "It would be fun catching it from him."

Nicks isn't as fast as some of his counterparts, but his hands are unquestioned. A native of Charlotte, N.C., Nicks established school records with 181 career receptions, 2,840 receiving yards and 21 touchdown catches.

Tough and reliable over the middle, Nicks (6-foot-1, 212 pounds) gets compared to Atlanta's Roddy White or Anquan Boldin of the Arizona Cardinals.

The Ravens have not conducted a private workout with Nicks, but they did send a contingent of Baltimore coaches and personnel representatives – along with Flacco - from team headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., to College Park less than two weeks ago to privately work out  Heyward-Bey.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound speedster is a former Terrapins track star that displayed his ability with a blazing 4.25-second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. He needed to show the Ravens that he owns the hands and determination to excel at the professional level.

"He's a work-in-progress as a player, but he's a big guy that is very, very fast," said Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta of the McDonogh High School product. "He's a home run hitter, and every team in the NFL is looking for a big guy that runs fast."

"We want guys that can catch," DeCosta explained. "If you're 6-foot-3 and run a 4.2, but you can't catch, that's a problem. We want receivers that have great ball skills, particularly down the field and inside, between the hashmarks - a guy like an Anquan Boldin, that can take a hit and hold onto the football."

As for Harvin and Britt, Baltimore has not yet welcomed them to their facility, nor have they held private workouts with each prospect, contrary to published reports.

Even so, they are worth taking into account.

Harvin, at 5-foot-11, 192 pounds, is in the Reggie Bush mold, more of a shifty threat once he gets the ball in open space. He was simply explosive over a three-year tenure in Gainesville, totaling 1,929 receiving yards to go with 1,852 yards on the ground.

Harvin also scored 32 touchdowns in only 36 games.

On the other hand, Britt seems to fit what the Ravens need in a bigger wideout, like Heyward-Bey and Nicks. The former Scarlet Knight measures in at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds.

And last year, Britt hauled in 87 passes for 1,371 yards and seven scored, ending his career as the Big East's all-time leading receiver.

"He's another big guy with a tremendous catching radius and long arms," DeCosta explained. "He's pretty fast, not a slow guy. I think his hands are good, not great. But, he's a talented player with a lot of upside."

If the Ravens decide to pass on all of these underclassmen with their opening selection, DeCosta and director of college scouting Joe Hortiz won't be sweating. They believe there is value at the position throughout the draft.

"I'd say it's a deep class," said Hortiz. "It's led by a lot of junior receivers this year, which is typically the case when they come out.

"The seniors kind of get overlooked at this time of year. There are some pretty good productive receivers throughout the whole board. They're experienced, the older guys, and they're going to bring in that experience from the college level, with the extra reps and game action."

There are multiple scenarios the Ravens can - and will - consider when it comes to the first round, whether that is to trade back and acquire more picks or simply to fill another need.

Receiver is just one of the options.

NotableThe Chicago Bears signed offensive tackle Orlando Pace to what is reported to be a three-year contract Thursday evening. The deal took place on the same day Chicago made a blockbuster trade with former Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler. Pace, formerly of the St. Louis Rams, had also interviewed with the Ravens, and now that he is unavailable, it makes a return of veteran tackle Willie Anderson more likely.… Newly-signed Baltimore center Matt Birk held a live chat with NFL.com this week. **

Should the Ravens target one of these wide receivers in the draft? Let us know what you think! **

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