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Mike Mayock: Ravens May Need To Look Outside First Round For Offensive Help

February 27, 2018
The NFL Network's Mike Mayock echoed the view of many Ravens fans when he addressed the team's needs during his annual pre-Combine conference call with reporters Feb. 26. 

"It probably needs to be an offensive draft for the Ravens this year," Mayock said.

At the same time, Mayock said that much of the value at the wide receiver position will be found outside the first round, and that the tight end position, another potential area of need for the Ravens, might not have a first-rounder in this draft. 

The on-field workouts at the NFL Combine will take place March 2-5, and the stock of some players will rise and fall based on those workouts.  

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is expected to meet with the media March 2, his first news conference since the team announced he would be stepping down after the 2018 season.

The Ravens are looking to bolster an offense that ranked 27th overall among 32 NFL teams, averaging 305.4 yards a game, 11th in rushing and 29th in passing. The Ravens' average of 5.10 yards per passing play ranked last in the league. 

Last year, for the first time in franchise history, the Ravens drafted no skill position players on offense. They used their first four draft picks on defensive players, and offensive linemen Nico Siragusa and Jermaine Eluemunor, taken on the third day of the draft, were their only offensive selections.

Wide receiver is considered the team's most critical need, with Mike Wallace set to become a free agent next month and Jeremy Maclin a possible salary cap casualty after a disappointing first season in Baltimore. If they both depart, the top receivers on the roster would be former first-round pick Breshad Perriman, who had 10 catches all of last season, and Chris Moore. 

Mayock said Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who had been linked to the Ravens as a potential first-round pick in many mock drafts, probably projects as a slot receiver in the NFL, as does Texas A&M's Christian Kirk. 

"They both run tremendous routes," Mayock said. "They both have really good hands, and they're very tough catching the football with good run after catch. Christian Kirk adds some value in the returning game."

Mayock views those two as the class of the receiver group, which he described as "really cloudy," but he stressed there is a lot of talent to be found outside the first round.

SMU's Courtland Sutton, who has been mentioned with Ridley and Kirk among the leaders of the group, "is a completely different animal" than the other two. Sutton is a 6-foot-4 target who is primarily an outside threat.

Last year, the top three receivers in the draft were snatched up in the first 10 picks, but that's unlikely to repeat itself this year. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper's latest mock draft has Ridley taken as the first wide receiver by the Arizona Cardinals at No. 15 -- one spot before the Ravens pick.

Kiper sees two other receivers going in the first round -- James Washington from Oklahoma State, and Kirk.  

Mayock said he views Washington as a late first-rounder or early second-round pick and stressed that there is a deep group of receivers who could be available in the second, third and fourth rounds. Among them, Mayock said, are Dante Pettis from Washington, D.J. Chark from LSU and D.J. Moore from Maryland. Moore, Mayock said, "has some juice. Like him."

Mayock said he also expects the Ravens to be in the market for a quarterback to back up Joe Flacco, "either with a third- or fourth-round potential player."

"I'm not sure everybody's excited with the way [Flacco]'s played since the Super Bowl year," Mayock said. "But I don't think it's an age-related topic. I think they're better on offense around them.  ... You start getting into the league for 10 or 12 years and you're in your 30s, at some point you've got to start drafting a potential backup."
Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka    

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox