Harbaugh says Ravens keeping all options open at receiver

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Speaking to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix on Tuesday, head coach John Harbaugh says the Ravens are keeping their options open at the wide receiver position.
After releasing Jacoby Jones and allowing starter Torrey Smith to depart via free agency, Baltimore has yet to add a wideout to the current roster while veteran options available on the market have dwindled over the last two weeks. The top remaining free-agent receivers include Michael Crabtree, Greg Jennings, Nate Washington, Denarius Moore, and Hakeem Nicks.
Despite limited options, Harbaugh isn’t shooting down the possibility of the Ravens signing a free agent to add to the current mix.
“We’d be interested in adding any position right now, wide receiver being one of them if it’s the right guy,” Harbaugh said. “Again, it’s got to fit. It’s got to fit as far as the player, the personality, the talent obviously, a fit for our offense, and — of course — the financial part of it.”
Many have pointed to the draft as the best avenue to find Smith’s long-term replacement, and Harbaugh agreed with assessments of 2015 being a very deep class. Though it’s a statement that’s been uttered by the Ravens’ brass in past seasons, Harbaugh suggested there should be viable options at the receiver position in all seven rounds of the draft.
General manager Ozzie Newsome would figure to have a good chance to hit on a receiver with 10 choices over the first 203 seletions of the draft, but the organization owns a poor track record drafting receivers with Smith having represented the biggest success story in the 20-year history of the franchise.
Many have pointed to the likes of Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong, Central Florida’s Breshad Perriman, Auburn’s Sammie Coates, and Ohio State’s Devin Smith as potential fits in the first or second round. But you won’t find a more unpredictable position in the draft other than quarterback.
“It’s always hard. Every position is different,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve done studies on that as far as the success rate in different rounds at different positions. Receiver is a little bit of a crapshoot in the first round. It turns out it’s a crapshoot in every round. A lot of receivers, they’ve been seventh-round picks, fifth-round picks, third-round pick receivers that have turned out to be Hall of Fame type players. Then, you’ve got first-round picks that have never really done anything. Obviously, your chances are higher the higher you pick a guy, but it’s hard to predict.”
Regardless of how that crapshoot might play out or whether they’re able to add a veteran through free agency or a trade, the Ravens know they’ll need more contributions from young receivers already on the roster such as Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro, Marlon Brown, and Jeremy Butler.
Beyond veteran Steve Smith (79 receptions for 1,065 yards) and running back Justin Forsett (44 catches for 263 yards), the Ravens don’t have another player on the current roster who made more than 24 receptions last year. In 2014, Aiken and Brown were solid No. 3 and No. 4 receivers in the passing game while the rookie Campanaro showed some flashes (seven receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown) in very limited playing time.
The bar will be higher for the coming season.
“They are going to have to handle more. That’s going to be their job,” Harbaugh said. “They are excited about it, they want to handle more. They’ll have their opportunity to prove it.
“I think Campanaro is a talented guy in the slot. He’s gifted as far as getting open, catching the football, and making plays after the catch. I’m excited to see if he can stay healthy and grow. Aiken is a strong receiver that’s just gotten better every single practice and every single day. If he continues to improve like that, he’ll be a very good player.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. Luke-
    Ozzie’s track record of drafting a WR in the first round at #26 scares me big time (Travis Taylor)??!!
    Rather acquire a free agent or trade for a veteran proven WR.
    TE is also very lean in the draft which is a depth chart issue having only Crockett Gilmore as the #1…. How is Denis Pitta recovering with rehab??
    Franchise
    (L.J. — Nothing new on Pitta as he continues to strengthen/rehab the hip. The decision of whether he’s going to continue trying to play is really in the hands of him and the doctors, but the organization isn’t counting on it happening at this point.)

  2. I love the idea of drafting a TE. Maxx Williams is basically a large receiver that will eat up the middle. I hear that he is compared to Shockey. I thought that the Patriots were onto something when they had Gronk & Hernandez. Not only are they great receivers, but they also cost about 4mill/yr less than receivers at the top of their positions. TE would be a win win.
    (L.J. — Would be a very nice addition, but there isn’t a lot to be excited about at that position in the draft beyond Williams. Taking him 26th would be a reach, but I doubt he lasts all the way until 58th.)

  3. Luke
    We have to have a wide receiver, no matter what it ttakes. You have a100millon dollars qb and no he can throw the ball too.
    Ozzie has to get this right.
    (L.J. — Agreed, but the track record isn’t the greatest in this department, leaving plenty of cause for concern.)

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