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What the Ravens will look for in a receiver in the draft

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The Ravens might have come out to say that they don't really need a wide receiver, but I'm pretty sure we all recognize that is a lot of smoke being blown. It has to be after the Ravens lost wide receiver Torrey Smith this offseason and have an even older Steve Smith projected to be the number one guy as of now.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens might have come out to say that they don't really need a wide receiver, but I'm pretty sure we all recognize that is a lot of smoke being blown. It has to be after the Ravens lost wide receiver Torrey Smith this offseason and have an even older Steve Smith projected to be the number one guy as of now.

Many fans and analysts are saying that the Ravens need to go big or go home when it comes to selecting a wide receiver and while I'm personally of the mindset that the Ravens should be able to find a solid option in the first round of the draft, the fact is that the Ravens just might not select one that early.

The Ravens front office has called the selection of wide receiver a "crapshoot" and they are mostly correct. You know what you are getting for the most part but a team needs to be able to develop the player further and refine some of the skills that they already have. With a player like Torrey Smith, he came into the league with mediocre hands and poor route running and left the team with slightly better hands and poor route running. Since the Ravens have such a poor track record with grabbing guys and being able to develop them further, let's just assume that what we see on the game film heading into the draft is the player that we'll see in season 3 too.

For the Ravens, selecting a wide receiver can be broken down into a few different categories...

True #1 Receivers

These are not a dime a dozen and are usually relegated to the top of the first round. There will always be a weird diamond in the rough player that suddenly becomes great, but it truly is a losing proposition to bet on that. The Ravens through their consistent high caliber play never really have a top 10 pick in the draft and trading up to that spot will cost them far too much. In this draft, there are really only 3 or 4 guys as of right now that have the look of a #1 receiving option and those are Amari Cooper, DeVante Parker, Kevin White and Dorial Green-Beckham. The first 3 will be gone WAY before the Ravens are on the clock, leaving only DGB as the possible pick here. As we all know, DGB comes with enough baggage to rack up one hell of a bill on Southwest Airlines and the Ravens might not have him on their board at all or might have him pushed down so far that he won't be catching Joe Flacco's passes anytime soon.

Don't fret though because true #1 receivers are not the end game for a team like the Ravens. What the Ravens truly covet and go after are the guys below...

Possession Receivers

The Ravens have missed having Anquan Boldin in what was one of the worst moves they have made in a long time. Boldin might be getting old and he might never reclaim the glory that was his golden years, but he caught everything around him and he was as tough as they come. Steve Smith is pushing into this as his career wanes on, but as we saw last season, Smith has the occasional case of the butterfingers himself.

Behind Smith are a bunch of unproven but young players that should fit this role nicely if they can continue to develop their route running. Certainly guys like Marlon Brown (6' 5" - 214 pounds) and Kamar Aiken (6' 2" - 213 pounds) have the physical side of the possession game down, but they both need to learn how to run crisper routes and catch the ball better before they can be truly counted on in this role.

What the Ravens would look for in a possession receiver in the draft is a guy that has route running to an artform, can catch a ball and not be afraid of a hit. Typically that combines with being a bigger guy, but over the past decade, there has been another mold come out like Wes Welker that relies more on quickness than sheer size. These types of players are typically role players that don't develop any further since they don't have the speed to become big play threats.

Deep Threats

Remember Torrey Smith? He was one of these types of picks. A guy with the straight line speed to get open and the prospect of developing further. While that development never really panned out for the Ravens, Smith did have his place on the Ravens team that won the Super Bowl and was quite the weapon while in Baltimore. With Steve Smith on the roster, and the young crop of possession receivers having the Ravens' support, Ozzie Newsome could decide to go speed with his receiving option and value that somewhere in the second to fourth rounds.

Ultimately what the Ravens would want to see out of this prospect is the ability to run fast and catch the ball. Route running isn't nearly as important than it is to gain separation through your straight line speed and then actually catch the ball at the end of it all. These players have the most promise because if they can just learn how to run routes, they can jump all the way ahead and become true #1 receivers for their teams, which is why these types of players are selected ahead of those with the mental part of the game but lacking the physical side of it as much.

As you can see, the Ravens have more options than just the top receivers on the board. Even those top options could turn out to be duds for a variety of reasons, which is why the Ravens categorize receivers as "crapshoots". At the least, look for the Ravens to grab a speedy deep threat to both work in the return game as well as take on the role that Torrey Smith had in the offense as a heave n' pray receiver. If someone falls to them, be sure that the Ravens will select one of the top receivers, but that seems unlikely without a character gamble on DGB.

What do you think the Ravens will do.