Ravens confident they'll land ideal receiver for 2014 roster

Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh say they've identified a receiver for the 2014 team. - Patrick McDermott

Wide receiver is a top priority for this team this offseason.

There's no doubt the Ravens' offense could use some help at receiver.

With the team's third down conversion rate near the bottom of the NFL in 2013, the Ravens could use another target that can help move the chains. This past season, the top two outside receivers (Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones) were primarily deep threats, and Marlon Brown did show some signs of being a reliable receiver in the slot.

(Granted, Smith did show signs of becoming an all-around receiver, and should continue to make strides as he heads into his fourth NFL season.)

But in terms of quality depth, there was little to none that contributed on Sundays. Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson didn't do much of anything as the season went on. Brandon Stokley was banged up all year.

So it's no surprise to hear Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh talk about being on the same page in terms of what kind of receiver they want to bring in to the 2014 team.

"I think — and I already know this and I won't share it with you — I think we've identified the type of receiver that we want," Newsome said at Wednesday's State of the Ravens press conference. "And when John told me, I lit up, because I was right there with him as to what we're looking for in a receiver this year. And I think before the 2014 season ends, we will have that guy on our football team."

In the same press conference, Newsome mentioned that part of the Ravens' strategy in free agency is to go after cap casualties, not necessarily unrestricted free agents. The reasoning is that the Ravens could lose a potential compensatory pick by signing upper tier UFAs.

And taking a look at this year's UFA list at receiver, there aren't too many options that stick out that the Ravens would use in a big way (well, unless the Ravens decide to make a run at bringing Anquan Boldin back, which conventional wisdom would indicate is highly unlikely.)

So this could be something that plays out in this year's NFL draft. The receiver group is deep, with a lot of guys that can contribute immediately. Could the Ravens trade up to ensure getting a guy like Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans?

Time will tell. The front office has a great track record of identifying talent and getting it. We'll see if they can continue that trend with this identified receiver.


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