The NFL draft is only a couple of weeks away and everyone in Baltimore has an opinion of whom the Ravens should draft with their first pick. The “hot” name that you hear constantly being thrown around lately is Maryland’s own Darius Heyward-Bey. Ever since DHB lit up the NFL combine in February, Ravens fans have become enamored with the idea of the former Terrapin wearing purple and black next season. Baltimore’s infatuation with DHB is purely based on the Ravens lack of a big play making wide receiver, a position they’ve struggled to fill since they came to Charm City. With their franchise quarterback finally in place after last year’s selection of Joe Flacco, Ravens fans are hoping that Ozzie Newsome can find that missing receiver that has eluded them for years. Clearly the Ravens would like to upgrade the position and this is a deep wide receiver class, but drafting a receiver with their first pick might not be the best use of their first round pick.
I compare the success rate of wide receivers drafted in the first round of the NFL draft to that of pitchers drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft. For every one player that develops into a top level talent there’s five that are busts. History shows us that wide receivers take at least one NFL season before they make an impact for their team and that’s saying that they eventually have a good NFL career. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, like the rookie seasons of Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin, and Roy Williams, but they are the exception to the rule and clearly you can find much more hay, than needles in the stack that is the NFL draft.
Can the Ravens take a gamble in this year’s draft by selecting a wide receiver? I’m not positive that there’s a sure fire “difference maker” that will be available at the 26th pick and I don’t think that the Ravens should take a gamble with their first round pick, especially coming off of a nice playoff run last season. I’m sure that the Ravens will address their need at wide receiver at least once during the draft, but there’s no reason to slide down the slippery slope of taking a receiver in the first round. Just remember that there have been more players like Desmond Howard, Charles Rogers, Michael Westbrook, and of course Travis Taylor, than there have been Larry Fitzgerald.