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WT: Ravens look to receive wideout


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Ravens look to receive wideout

By Ken Wright



BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens have promised to get a big-play wide receiver before the start of training camp in July.

Because the highly publicized Terrell Owens deal unraveled, the Ravens' next opportunity comes Saturday in the NFL Draft. The problem for the reigning AFC North champions is that they don't have a selection until the 19th pick of the second round (51st).

In a draft loaded with receivers, the Ravens are optimistic they might be able to snag a vertical threat in the second round. However, the thoroughbred wideouts — Pittsburgh's Larry Fitzgerald, Texas' Roy Williams, Southern Cal's Mike Williams and Wisconsin's Lee Evans — probably will be gone before Baltimore gets on the board — unless the Ravens trade up.

"One of the reasons I accepted the fifth-round pick [as settlement in the Owens trade] was to give us stability to move up in the draft," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We've been helped out a lot more by the league by being given three additional compensatory picks, so we're set with 10 picks. If the opportunity presents itself in any round, we will definitely package some of our picks together and move up.

"I can say this: The first round could be heavy on receivers. If that happens, that could force some other receivers that are playing in this league to become available for us to make some trades or to get them after June 1 [deadline for clubs to sign unrestricted free agents]."

The Ravens had the NFL's lowest-ranked passing game last season. Travis Taylor (39 catches for 632 yards and three touchdowns) is the only receiver on the roster who had more than 15 catches in 2003. Baltimore let veteran wideout Marcus Robinson (32 receptions, 466 yards, six TDs) bolt via free agency to the Minnesota Vikings.

Even though the Ravens have a glaring need at receiver, Newsome and coach Brian Billick said they will choose the top-rated player on the board — barring a trade to move up — at No. 51.

"In the transitory nature of this league, you take the best players you can and find a way to adapt your system to them," Billick said. "One of the reasons we have been successful the way we have is our ability to identify talent. I have great faith that we will be able to augment this team whether we get a receiver in the second round, third round, second day, a guy in June, or make a trade based on our ability to evaluate that talent. We're not going to pigeonhole ourselves by saying we have to have a receiver with the first pick."

Some mock drafts have the Ravens selecting Virginia Tech's Ernest Wilford (6-foot-3½, 223 pounds), Washington State's Devard Darling (6-1, 211), Syracuse's Johnnie Morant (6-4, 228), or LSU's Devery Henderson (5-11, 196), who could be potentially available in the second round.

Baltimore has the most salary cap room of any team in the league. So if the Ravens don't draft a wide receiver who can start immediately, they likely will go after an established veteran through a trade.

Last year, the Ravens signed Robinson and veteran Frank Sanders as free agents to solve the team's receiving woes. Sanders caught only 14 passes all season, the sixth straight year his production has dropped, and Robinson didn't contribute until the last six games of the season.

Because of their questions at wide receiver, the Ravens designed their offense through workhorse running back Jamal Lewis, who responded with the second-greatest rushing season (2,066 yards) in NFL history.

With 23 of 24 starters returning (including kicker Matt Stover and punter Dave Zastudil) off a 10-6 playoff team, the Ravens are possibly close to returning to the Super Bowl after winning the division last season. The wide receiver problem could prevent that.

"We don't have our heads in the sand — we understand what our needs are," Billick said. "Our track record is pretty good for filling those needs, sometimes dramatically, sometimes not."

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Wrong year to trade him due to the plethora of Wideouts available in the draft. Devery Hernderson, for example, might be a better receiver than Gardner is right now. He may be smaller, but he's a heck of alot quicker and has better hands. Michael Clayton appears lost in the shuffle.... and although he's a tad on the slow side the guy catches everything thrown his way.

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Originally posted by Long n Left

Gardner for #51 and #120 (4th round). He's a proven performer, and should bring something close to this.

He's not that proven that we'd give up that much to get him. I wouldnt want him anyway..

As for someone saying we need a QB. Kyle Boller is good enough and is developing. I'm not totally sold on him but it's a start. He played in half or a lil bit more than half and looked pretty good. Some ppl are already saying we need a QB. You need to give Qb's time. It's so annoying to see ppl say bust after 1 yr or half a yr with any player. I bet we'll hear bust if Sean Taylor doesnt have about 5 ints by mid way of the yr. With all the hype, some may expect that. It's ridiculous to give up so quickly on someone.

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Originally posted by WarpathBrave86

I pray to God Devery Henderson and Michael Clayton aren't drafted by the Ravens, they will never reach their full potential on that hell hole of an offense.

LOL..like the skins offense was any good last yr. We had a 2000 yrd rusher and yeah a pathetic pass game with the exception of Todd Heap but Henderson or Clayton(more so) would make us better in the future if we did get em. Besides we made the playoffs, where were the skins?

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