There's plenty of debate about the best receivers in this year's NFL draft. Wide receivers at the Combine are looking to create separation, not only from defensive backs, but from each other.
"I'm the best receiver in this draft," A.J. Brown of Ole Miss declared Friday.
Brown believes that, but many pundits say Brown isn't even the best receiver at Ole Miss. His teammate, D.K. Metcalf, is rated as the top wide receiver in many mock drafts. That makes for a friendly rivalry between Metcalf and Brown, who trained together before the Combine.
What does Brown say to people who think Metcalf is better? Brown smiled.
"Everybody will wake up soon," Brown said. "It's cool."
Clearly, what happens at the Combine will help determine how things play out for the top wide receiver prospects. The Ravens need playmakers, but this draft doesn't feature a dominant receiver prospect like Julio Jones or A.J. Green. It would not be surprising if no wide receiver cracks the top 20.
"You have two that I believe will go in the first round," said NFL Network draft analyst Danial Jeremiah. "Even with the foot injury, I think Marquise Brown (Oklahoma) will still go in the first round. D.K. Metcalf is going to go in the first round. After that,[comma] it's become kind of a flavor thing. There's all kinds of flavors, and I think you'll see a bunch of those skill players roll off the board second, third, fourth round. There will be a boat-load of them."
That leaves the Ravens with interesting evaluations to make, holding the No. 22-overall pick. On Saturday during their on-field workouts, we'll learn more about how fast the wide receiver prospects run. However, here's a look at six wide receiver candidates the Ravens should have interest in and what they had to say at the Combine:
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Size: 6-feet, ½ inches, 226 pounds, 78-inch wingspan
Confidence is not a problem for Brown, who also plays with the physical style the Ravens are looking for.
"I just like to bully defensive backs," Brown said. "Once I get the ball in my hands, you've got to tackle me. I bring leadership. I'm real passionate about my game. I bring toughness."
Brown was asked if he disliked defensive backs.
"No, they're just in the way," he said.
D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
Size: 6-3 3/8, 228 pounds, 82 7/8-inch wingspan
Metcalf created buzz Thursday with his wingspan, one of the widest ever recorded at the Combine. With the Ravens looking for receivers to mesh with quarterback Lamar Jackson, Metcalf's enormous catch radius could make him too intriguing to pass up.
"Lamar, as he continues to develop, the hope is you're going to see him become a little bit more accurate," Jeremiah said. "In the meantime, I think finding somebody that not only can run, but somebody with a huge catch radius like D.K. Metcalf would make a lot of sense."
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Size: 5-foot-9 3/8, 166 pounds, 71 ¾-inch wingspan
Brown was still in a walking boot Friday, and he won't participate in any Combine drills or at his pro day, as he's still recovering from Lisfranc foot surgery. However, Brown insists he will be faster than ever when he returns to action.
"I've got three or four more weeks in the boot," Brown said. "A lot of receivers had this, came back, so I'm confident."
Marquise leans on his cousin, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, for advice on what to expect in the NFL. Marquise believes he will also be an NFL playmaker, despite concerns about his smallish frame.
Parris Campbell, Ohio State
Size: 5-foot-11 7/8, 205 pounds, 75 5/8-inch wingspan
The Ravens believe Jackson's arm strength and ability to elude pass rushers should create opportunities for more deep completions next season. Campbell is a speedster and could become more attractive to the Ravens if they don't re-sign John Brown.
"When you've got a quarterback who's not going to be a 70-percent passer, being able to get some of those home runs, have some of those shorter-play drives makes a lot of sense," Jeremiah said. "You get to a guy like Parris Campbell who can fly."
Mecole Hardman, Georgia
Size: 5-foot-10 ¼, 187 pounds, 71 5/8-inch wingspan
Hardman is another smaller receiver with great speed, and the Ravens could decide that Hardman could be the home run option they are looking for, especially since he's expected to be available after Day 1 of the draft.
"Mecole Hardman would be a great fit," Jeremiah said. "Not only can he give you the receiver stuff, he can help you in the return game. He not only has the speed element, he is really tough."
N'Keal Harry, Arizona State
Size: 6-foot-2, 228 pounds, 78 ¼-inch wingspan
Harry is also physical and he loves to block, and could fill the opening at wide receiver the Ravens created when they released Michael Crabtree. Harry said he loved watching the Ravens' run-heavy offense last season and would fit in well as a blocking wide receiver.
"I'm the type of player who likes to impose my will on the other team," Harry said. "Especially on smaller corners. If they need me to block a lot, I'd have no problem doing that."