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Baltimore Ravens: Wide receiver group needs a serious upgrade in 2019

Lamar Jackson - Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson - Baltimore Ravens

With second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson ready to take the next step, and with no clear lead at running back, the Ravens need desperate help on offense. Who should they target in free agency and the NFL Draft? We take a look at some available options.

The Baltimore Ravens wide receiver group does not scare anyone. After releasing Michael Crabtree, they are left with Willie Snead and Jordan Lasley as their starting wide receivers. Behind them is Chris Moore, Quincy Adeboyejo, and Jaleel Scott. Also, add in that John Brown is an unrestricted free agent. Your question might now be — who are these guys? My answer? Exactly.

The Ravens need desperate help at this position. There aren’t a lot of great options in free agency. The good news, though, is that there are many prospects in the NFL Draft. Let’s take a look at free agency and the draft, with a particular focus on possible first-round receivers.

Free Agency

The Ravens are likely going to continue to focus on a heavy run game so they can help Jackson as much as possible. When you also take into account Jackson’s subpar accuracy, they’ll likely want to grab a few possession receivers. There aren’t many great options in free agency, but there are some who would be nice complements to a draft pick.

Donte Moncrief
I like Donte Moncrief a lot for this offense. He is the definition of a true possession receiver.  Moncrief has been in the NFL for five seasons. He spent four with the Indianapolis Colts and one with the Jaguars. While he has never accumulated more than 733 yards in any given season, he is the kind of guy that will complement others within the offense.

Moncrief is 26 years old and with a potent quarterback like Jackson, I think they can do a lot of damage in the short and intermediate passing game. I feel as if he is waiting for the right opportunity to break out, and the Ravens might just be the fit for him.

Golden Tate
The Ravens can continue to build their wide receiver room with the addition of Golden Tate. Tate did a lot of great things in Detroit but struggled to find a comfort zone in Philadelphia after being traded mid-season.

With the Lions in 2017, Tate racked up 1,003 receiving yards on 92 receptions. He averaged 10.9 yards reception, catching 76.7% of his passes. In 2018, with the Lions and Eagles, he had 795 yards receiving on 74 catches. Tate has played in 95 of 96 games the past six seasons and has only missed 7 games in his entire career.

Although 31 years old, Tate should have no trouble getting back into a groove if paired in a friendly offensive system such as the Ravens.

NFL Draft

We know the Ravens can’t possibly snag all of these players in free agency. We also know that wide receiver isn’t the only position they need to fill. The good news for them is that many analysts are saying this year’s WR class is one of the best they’ve seen in a while.

N’Keal Harry – Arizona State
The wide receiver from Arizona State, Harry is an intriguing option for the Ravens at pick 22. At 6 foot 4 and 220 pounds, Harry is a prototypical X-receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft. From blocking on running plays to jump balls downfield, Harry uses his length and strength to bully defensive backs.

If given space to run, Harry is fast enough to get away from some defenders. He is effective at gaining yards after catch for his size. He has fantastic field vision and excellent contact balance. If the Ravens draft him, he will make an immediate impact in the red zone and will be a big-play threat.

A.J. Brown – Ole Miss
When you talk about yards after the catch, there aren’t many better than Brown in the upcoming draft. While some are concerned about his speed, I don’t think it will be much of an issue. This is especially true if they keep him in the slot. Would the Ravens draft the cousin of Antonio Brown? They’ll likely have a chance to do so with the 22nd pick. However, the better play would be to trade down a few spots and select him towards the bottom of round one.

Kelvin Harmon – NC State
Harmon finished this past season with over 1,000 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also averaged nearly 16 yards per catch during his collegiate career. At 6 foot 3 and 215 pounds, he’ll be a big target for Jackson. Harmon would be a starter on the outside, and his ability to beat press coverage is a plus. Harmon might not be the best wide receiver in the draft, but I think he’s a terrific option for the Ravens.

The theme is possession

As you may have noticed, I focused a lot on possession receivers. I don’t believe the best option for the Ravens is to focus on downfield threats. Jackson likes to run, but the Ravens need to keep him in the pocket more. With guys who can make the catch in the short and intermediate zones, it will allow the Ravens to have an up-tempo offense. If they pair one of the players above in free agency with a high WR pick, this offense can make some noise in 2019.

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