Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was all smiles in his team's war room when the Ravens made electrifying Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown the team's first draft pick this year. He was also excited when the team selected Notre Dame wide receiver Miles Boykin in the third round, giving the Ravens a pair of promising young receivers to pair with second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Bisciotti, though, knows as well as anyone the Ravens' tortured history with drafting wide receivers, and during a conference call with season-ticket holders last week, he was quick to pump the brakes on the expectations of the rookie receiver duo.
"I can't just tuck everything into a nice bow and say I'm confident," Bisciotti said. "I have no idea what to expect from them. We lost [Breshad] Perriman for the first year when he was our first-round pick. We lost Travis Taylor to a broken clavicle in my very first year here when we took him with the 10th pick. I just want them to be healthy."
Brown and Boykin are nursing injuries that have kept them out of OTA workouts. Brown is recovering from winter surgery on a Lisfranc (foot) injury, and he has said he expects to be ready for training camp. Boykin has been held out with a hamstring injury.
The Ravens obviously knew about Brown's injury when they drafted him and were encouraged enough about his long-term prognosis to make him the No. 25 overall pick. But, given the team's history, it's understandable for Bisciotti to be cautiously optimistic.
Perriman was the team's first-round pick in 2015, and he was saddled with great expectations that the Ravens would finally hit on a draft-pick wide receiver. Of the 26 wide receivers drafted by the Ravens before this year, only one -- Torrey Smith -- had a 1,000-yard season with the team. (Brandon Stokley, a fourth-round pick in 1999, later had a 1,000-yard season with the Indianapolis Colts).
Perriman, though, suffered a knee injury in training camp as a rookie and missed that entire season, and he never did produce at his first-round level, drawing much criticism from a fan base desperate for a playmaker at the wide receiver position. The Ravens released Perriman at the end of training camp last season.
In Brown, the Ravens think they have an ideal complement for Jackson, adding elite speed and playmaking ability whether on deep balls, intermediate routes, jet sweeps or wide receiver screens.
"He's an electric player," said tight end Mark Andrews, Brown's former teammate at Oklahoma. "He's a guy that's going to change a game in the blink of an eye. ... He's so fast and so electric that it's going to be tough for defenses to stay over top of him."
Boykin, at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, brings a different skill set entirely, and the Ravens are counting on him, too. Just maybe not right away. Bisciotti said he expects both rookie receivers to learn from the team's few veteran receivers: Willie Snead, offseason acquisitions Michael Floyd and Seth Roberts and emerging fourth-year receiver Chris Moore.
"I'd be lying if I said I was counting on either one of our new wide receivers to be Rookie of the Year," Bisciotti said. "I just hope that they stay healthy and they learn from the vets and they grow and they contribute enough that their confidence goes through the roof so they are the stars we hope they are in Year Two."