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With nine picks in this week's 2011 NFL Draft, there's every reason to believe that the Ravens, while always talking about that "Best Player Available" philosophy, will address their many needs in the seven rounds. Since free agency will not start until the NFL owners and players sign a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they can't fill their holes with veterans until then. Furthermore, they will not be allowed to contact the undrafted free agents overlooked in the seven rounds this weekend.
Therefore, the team will need to look at what they need as much as what is available. That's where the title in the post comes into view. Even if you want to consider that both veterans T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte Stallworth want to remain with the Ravens, when you include them along with starters Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin, there isn't a wide receiver among them under the age of 30. The team does have a number of wideouts on their roster and Practice Squad below that age, but nothing that could be looked at as the next great target for QB Joe Flacco.
With the wide receiver draft class being considered relatively deep, there appears to be three distinct groups of wideouts available. The first group only has two guys in it and both of them (Georgia's A.J. Green and Alabama's Julio Jones) will be long gone by the time the Ravens pick at #26. The next group is arguably not first round talent but there is sure to be a run on them in the second and third rounds. That group includes Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky) and Jerrel Jernigan (Troy). Then you have guys like Titus Young (Boise State), Greg Little (UNC) and finally speedsters Edmund Gates (Abilene Christian) and Ricardo Lockette (Fort Valley State).
You can argue which guy goes where but the point of this is that the Ravens can go get a solid guy in the 2ndor 3rd round and come back in the 4th, 5thor even later to get another guy who brings complementary skills to the table. For instance, if the Ravens picked up Jon Baldwin in the second round after getting their pass rusher in the first, then came back with an offensive lineman in the 3rd round, they could possibly still find another receiver with speed to burn in the fourth round or later (Gates or Lockette) and still have five picks left to add talent on both sides of the ball to either fill holes or add depth.
Despite my constant harping on the team to go into the trenches in the first round, be it on offense or defense, I still see the need for the team to not only get the guy that everyone says they need to stretch the field, but also prepare for life after Derrick Mason as well as adding youth to that squad to grow old and comfortable with Joe Flacco.
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