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Wide Receiver Class Deep In Middle Rounds


The Ravens have an open spot at wide receiver that they will likely look to address somewhere in this year's draft.

The good news for Baltimore is that if they don't get a receiver early, the crop of wideouts is a deep talent pool into the middle rounds.  

"It's pretty solid," Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said about the receivers. "It's probably bigger and thicker in the middle than in years past."

That talent extends through about the fourth round with players who could end up developing into quality starters, and possibly end up playing right away if they get into the right system.

"Really the whole draft, there are [receivers] in each round that can help us," Hortiz said. "There is a really solid core group of guys in the middle rounds that I think will go in the second or third round that will be solid, dependable starters in the NFL."

The top of the receiver class is well known to the Baltimore area.

West Virginia's Tavon Austin, a Dunbar High School graduate, is regarded by many experts as the top receiver in the draft and a likely top-16 pick. The other players widely regarded as the top wideouts are Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter.

"Obviously, Tavon, who everyone is familiar with in this city, and then the Tennessee wideouts are talented guys who have some explosive playmaking ability," Hortiz said.

Austin, Patterson and Hunter are likely expected to be gone by the time Baltimore picks, but the Ravens have been linked to other receivers in a number of mock drafts.

Some of the popular projections have Baltimore taking California's Keenan Allen, Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins and USC's Robert Woods.

"All three of them are solid players," Hortiz said.

Woods was once regarded as a likely top-10 pick after putting up more than 1,200 receiving yards as a sophomore in 2011. His production trailed off slightly last year – he still had 74 catches for 849 yards and 11 touchdowns – and now he's expected to get picked at the end of the first or early in the second.

"[Woods] has been a talented player," Hortiz said. "He has been really productive this year. Some of the spotlight was taken off of him by an underclassman, but every time he was called upon, he delivered."

Allen was another productive West Coast receiver, who has been one of the best receivers in college football over the last two seasons. He racked up over 1,300 receiving yards and 98 receptions in 2011, and followed that up with 61 catches for 737 yards last year.

"He is big, physical," Hortiz said. "He has real good route-running instinct, good hands and just a really big frame. He knows how to work the below area underneath."

Hopkins decided to declare for the NFL Draft as a junior after a standout 2012 season at Clemson. He hauled in 82 passes for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns, and showed that he's ready to make the leap to the next level.

"He plays inside and outside – good size, good playmaking ability, can finish with the ball in his hands," Hortiz said.

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