What Ravens Are Looking For In A Wide Receiver


It's going to be another offseason of fans and media pundits clamoring for the Ravens to get a "big-bodied" wide receiver.

But when asked for what the Ravens are looking for when scouting a wide receiver, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz doesn't limit his search to that criterion.

He's mostly just looking for wideouts who do the most important thing – get open – no matter how they do it. 

"When we're looking at wideouts, we're looking for guys like Marlon Brown, Torrey Smith and Michael Campanaro," Hortiz said, trying to prove a point.

"They're all different. That's the reality of it. They all come in different shapes and sizes, different speeds, different athletic traits."

Ravens scouts spoke with a number of wide receivers at the Senior Bowl. They didn't all fit into one mold. Some were small and shifty. Others were bigger in stature. Others were speed merchants.

However, Hortiz does have three staple requirements: separation, hands and yards after catch.

Being able to catch is the bottom-line prerequisite for a wide receiver. Baltimore has had receivers who have struggled with drops, and they often didn't stay around long if they didn't quickly improve. Smith came into the NFL with slippery hands, but he improved on that greatly over his four seasons.

Then there's the ability to gain separation and get open. That can be done in a lot of different ways.

"Receivers are all different speeds," Hortiz said.

"Anquan Boldin ran a 4.6 at the combine. But when you watch Anquan run a route, he's extremely sudden when he makes his break. He doesn't have to be fast. He's just got to be sudden to separate. That's one of the biggest traits you need to see from a wideout. It's the ability to separate."

Brown separates with his 6-foot-5 height and long arms. Campanaro, who the Ravens drafted in the seventh round last year, breaks free with very quick feet and suddenness. Smith gets open with his pure speed, and the veteran, Steve Smith Sr., creates separation with his route-running.

"They're all different, but what they can all do is gain their separation the way they're capable of doing it," Hortiz said.

Hortiz also looks for a player who can "finish on the ball through contact," and get some yardage after the catch.

"Not all guys are great RAC [run after catch] guys, but you want to at least see a guy that can get you an extra 5 or 6 yards after the catch," he said.

The Senior Bowl showed there are a number of different types of receivers available in this year's draft, and the Ravens could pick from any of them. There's not one mold they are locked into.

There were a handful of very talented, quick-footed short receivers such as Duke's Jamison Crowder, East Carolina's Justin Hardy, Kansas State's Tyler Lockett and Miami's Phillip Dorsett.

There were speedsters in Auburn's Sammie Coates and Ohio State's Devin Smith. There were also talented giants in Central Arkansas' Dezmin Lewis and Washington State's Vince Mayle.

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