With the Scouting Combine on deck and NFL Draft around the corner, BR.com's Ryan Mink sat down with Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz for a lengthy conversation on drafting wide receivers. Check back over the course of the next week for stories and blogs from that interview.
Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz would love to draft a 6-foot-5, 230-some pound wide receiver like the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson.
Problem is, Johnson was selected with the second overall pick in the 2007 draft. So unless Baltimore fans would like to swap records with the Lions, there just aren't receivers like Johnson sliding to the late first round.
"Everybody wants to see us have a big, explosive, play-making wideout," Hortiz said. "Well they're not there.
"We know when we see big, explosive wideouts. It doesn't take long to evaluate Calvin Johnson. He was awesome. Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, those guys aren't hard to evaluate. But we don't want to be picking third either."
The Lions took a wide receiver in the draft's first 10 overall picks four times from 2003 to 2007 and have had a 28-84 record since 2003.
The Ravens have selected two first-round receivers in their 14-year history. First was 6-foot-1 Travis Taylor with the 10th overall pick in the 2000 draft. Then it was 5-foot-10 Mark Clayton with the 22nd overall pick in 2005.
Ravens fans ask why Baltimore's scouts didn't pick a first-round wide receiver in last year's draft.
Minnesota's Percy Harvin, who reached the NFL Pro Bowl as a special teamer, was taken one spot ahead of the Ravens' 23rd pick. So that wasn't an option unless the Ravens wanted to give up more to trade to a higher pick.
Hakeem Nicks, who went to the New York Giants at No. 29, notched 790 receiving yards and six touchdowns. The 6-foot-3 Kenny Britt was drafted with the next pick and posted 701 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie year.
The answer is simple: Michael Oher. The Ravens, according to Hortiz, had Oher pegged as a top-10 player on their Big Board.
"Last year, could we have taken Kenny Britt, could we have taken Hakeem Nicks instead of Michael Oher? Sure, we could have," Hortiz said. "But Michael Oher is a really good football player. We're going to take the best player that can help us.
"Last year, picking a wideout could have helped us. But the reality is that when we were up we didn't have the comfort level with the wideouts on the board versus the other players."