Wideouts On the Mind?

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The Ravens obviously want to upgrade every position through the draft, but receiver is perhaps the one that generates the most conversation - and rightfully so.

Even though Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton are established as able wideouts, there are only questions behind them on the depth chart.

Demetrius Williams, a third-round selection in 2006, showed promise but is coming off an Achilles tendon injury that required surgery last year. Yamon Figurs has helped more in the return game than the aerial attack.

Marcus Smith and Justin Harper, two late-rounders from 2008, must take a big leap forward if they want to become integral parts of the offense.

And, a stable of free agents - Marcus MaxwellEd Williams and Ernie Wheelwright - are simply hoping to earn a spot on the active roster.

Should general manager Ozzie Newsome take a wideout with the 26th-overall pick?

Many would say yes, and while the two best players - Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin - will likely be taken by that point, there will certainly be a talented crop of prospects available if Newsome chooses to remain at his current spot.

Hakeem Nicks, who worked out for a delegation of Ravens officials Friday in Chapel Hill, N.C., is a name that has popped up in multiple mock drafts.

The North Carolina product fits the bill of what Baltimore would want in a receiver to complement the 5-foot-11 Mason and Clayton, specifically a bigger target that could stretch the field for strong-armed quarterback Joe Flacco.

Nicks, 6-foot-1, 212 pounds, visited team headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., last week. He finished his junior campaign with 68 catches for a school-record 1,222 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning All-American honorable mention and All-ACC first-team honors.

Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey is another player the Ravens have worked out and another prospect mentioned in mock drafts.

Even though he doesn't have the hands of Nicks, the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder has blazing speed - running a 4.32-second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. A home-run hitter, Heyward-Bey is intriguing when considering that he had eight plays of 50 yards or more in college.

For a truly tall receiver, Rutgers' Kenny Britt stands an imposing 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds. Britt, whom the Ravens also worked out this week, was the elite receiver of the Big East for the past three years, totaling 3,043 receiving yards in just 34 games. His production made him the conference's all-time receiving leader.

Percy Harvin of Florida offers something different than the previous three prospects. He is only 5-foot-11, but is shifty and can turn nothing into a big play by slipping away from defenders. Harvin scored 32 touchdowns (19 rushing, 13 receiving) over the span of 36 games.

If Newsome opts to not draft a receiver with his first pick, some value exists in the second round, especially in Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias, Louis Murphy from Florida and Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi.

Iglesias, 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, was a cornerstone for one of the most explosive offenses in the history of college football. In fact, quarterback Sam Bradford's march to the Heisman Trophy in 2008 probably wouldn't have been possible without Iglesias' reliable hands.

Murphy is known as much for his track exploits as his football prowess. He may have been overshadowed by Harvin at Florida, but the 6-foot-3, 203-pounder showed he has good hands, making 73 receptions from 2007-08.

As for Massaquoi, a former teammate of Nicks' at Charlotte's Independence High School, his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame is built for the NFL level. He boasted a career-high 53 receptions for 920 yards and eight scores as a senior.

The Ravens very well may have their newest "big" receiver in the locker room. In fact, Newsome said he believes as much in his annual pre-draft press conference.

"We're looking forward to some of those young guys taking some big leaps in their second year," he stated. "I think we had the same discussion about the offensive line last year, and we had some young guys take that second step.

"Is wide receiver a great need? Anybody that is special can come and make this football team better."

But it's not far-fetched to believe that the Ravens are eyeing some of the first-day draft talent at receiver.

Should the Ravens draft a wide receiver? Let us know what you think!

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