We all know the Ravens have struggled to draft and develop wide receivers in their 15-year history. But as my Baltimore Sun colleague Jamison Hensley pointed out this weekend in an article on the subject, it’s not for a lack of trying. The Ravens have drafted 16 wide receivers over the years, from Jermaine Lewis in 1996 to David Reed last year.
Here’s a link to Hensley’s story, which is a good read.
General manager Ozzie Newsome said at least week’s draft luncheon that the Ravens will take a wide receiver with one of their nine picks, and with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth set to become free agents, that probably isn’t a smokescreen.
“We've done a good job of stacking the board with some guys that have some size, some guys that have some unique quickness about them and some guys have just got flat-out speed," Newsome said. "It's a very good board for receivers this year."
And with quarterback Joe Flacco entering his fourth season, the Ravens are confident they can start to develop wide receivers, something they were unable to do in past years with erratic quarterbacks.
Here’s a look at the 16 wide receivers the Ravens have selected -- only three were drafted in the first or second round -- and how they have fared in their Baltimore careers as receivers. So this doesn’t take into account that Jermaine Lewis was one heck of a kick returner and that players such as Travis Taylor, Brandon Stokley and Mark Clayton had varying degrees of success after their Ravens careers had ended.
In a Baltimore uniform, none of these receivers had more than 70 catches, 1,000 receiving yards or six touchdowns in any season. The two first-round wideouts, Taylor and Clayton, have been labeled as busts, but they had the most productive careers among the Ravens’ homegrown receivers. See for yourself:
Jermaine Lewis (1996, fifth round): Six seasons, 88 games, 136 catches, 1,984 yards, 16 TDs
James Roe (1996, sixth round): Three seasons, 23 games, 15 catches, 239 yards, one TD
Patrick Johnson (1998, second round): Five seasons, 45 games, 60 catches, 929 yards, seven TDs
Brandon Stokley (1999, fourth round): Four seasons, 33 games, 60 catches, 913 yards, seven TDs
Travis Taylor (2000, first round): Five seasons, 67 games, 204 catches, 2,758 yards, 15 TDs
Ron Johnson (2002, fourth round): Two seasons, 22 games, 11 catches, 126 yards, one TD
Javin Hunter (2002, sixth round): One season, 12 games, five catches, 35 yards
Devard Darling (2004, third round): Four seasons, 30 games, 20 catches, 331 yards, three TDs
Clarence Moore (2004, sixth round): Three seasons, 29 games, 29 catches, 353 yards, five TDs
Derek Abney (2004, seventh round): One season, zero games, zero catches
Mark Clayton (2005, first round): Five seasons, 76 games, 234 catches, 3,116 yards, 12 TDs
Demetrius Williams (2006, fourth round): Four seasons, 44 games, 63 catches, 1,008 yards, four TDs
Yamon Figurs (2007, third round): Two seasons, 26 games, two catches, 79 yards, one TD
Marcus Smith (2008, fourth round): Three seasons, 21 games, zero catches
Justin Harper (2008, seventh round): Three seasons, two games, zero catches
David Reed (2010, fifth round): One season, 13 games, zero catches
Given this history, how should the Ravens address the receiver position in this week’s NFL draft?