Sixth Round (No. 201): Ravens Trade Up to Draft WR James Proche

#201 James Proche
The Baltimore Ravens select James Proche with the 201st pick in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft

The Ravens moved up in the sixth round to get another wide receiver they wanted.

After acquiring the 201st pick from the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore selected James Proche of SMU, one of the most productive receivers in college football.

During his four-year college career, Proche had almost 4,000 yards receiving (3,949 yards) and caught 39 touchdown passes. As a senior last year, Proche caught the most passes in college football (111) for 1,225 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The Ravens also acquired a seventh-round pick (219 overall) in the trade with Minnesota. In exchange, the Ravens sent their sixth-round pick (225), as well as a fifth-round pick in 2021 to the Vikings. Baltimore acquired that 2021 fifth-round pick from the Steelers in the trade that sent defensive end Chris Wormley to Pittsburgh.

General Manager Eric DeCosta felt he needed to make an aggressive move to make sure he got Proche.

"I wasn't sure James Proche was going to be there for us in the seventh round," DeCosta said. "I really didn't want to wait anymore."

At 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, Proche was a difficult cover in college who showed ability to get open playing in the slot or lining up outside.

"There's a lot of things about James that we liked," DeCosta said. "I saw him at the Senior Bowl. He's a crafty guy. He's good inside. He's got excellent hands. I think he's competitive with the football."

According to Pro Football Focus, Proche was the most targeted receiver in college football last year, and during his career he had just nine drops in 437 targets. Had this not been one of the deepest wide receiver draft classes in history, Proche would have likely gone earlier.

The biggest criticisms of Proche are that he lacks blazing speed, and that he doesn't have extraordinary size. But joining a Ravens receiving corps that features two speedsters in Marquise Brown and third-round pick Devin Duvernay, Proche's ability to get open could be an excellent fit as another weapon for Lamar Jackson.

He also was a punt (7.6 yard average) and kick returner (19.8 yard average) in college, adding another contender for an open position.

"I watched him catch punts that week down in Mobile and I was really impressed by how he judged the ball and secured the catch," DeCosta said. "He's a guy that gets upfield quickly with the football in his hands as a punt returner. And that's an important position. It's hard to find those kind of guys that have that special skill set."

SMU has churned out some strong wide receivers in recent years with Courtland Sutton (Denver Broncos), Trey Quinn (Washington Redskins) and Emmanuel Sanders (New Orleans Saints).

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