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Ravens Insider: Will the Ravens draft a wide receiver? It depends what you believe.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Texas wide receiver Adonai Mitchell was one of dozens of players and several receivers who met with the Ravens this week at the NFL scouting combine.

Baltimore has a history of drafting the position in the first round. General manager Eric DeCosta has done so in three of the past five years, including 2023, when he used the 22nd overall pick to select Zay Flowers. The Boston College star went on to lead the team in catches and yards and set franchise rookie records in both.

DeCosta again has his sights set on the wide receiver group this year.

“That’s a critical position; the data supports that,” he said earlier this week. “And that’s a position, too, where some of these guys are like race cars; they break down at times. And so, having depth at that position is critical, [and] we saw that this year. We think we built the room out pretty well this year and were able to sustain some injuries along the way.”

As for Mitchell, he’s a 6-foot-4, 196-pound speed shifter who had 55 receptions for 845 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and is projected to be picked in the late first/early second round. He also said Friday that he likes to take nuggets from various receivers’ games and add it to his own, because, “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t trying, and I definitely try to cheat a lot.”

Of course, a similar refrain could be applied to NFL teams this week at Lucas Oil Stadium and in the weeks ahead: If they ain’t lyin’, they ain’t tryin’.

In other words, fans shouldn’t read too much into what they hear about DeCosta and the Ravens, particularly when it comes to interviewing several receivers and the prospect of taking one in the first round of April’s NFL draft. Simply put, there are far more pressing needs with the 30th overall pick, notably the offensive line, cornerback and pass rusher.

A more plausible scenario would be for the Ravens to look for a receiver in the second round or beyond.

No matter what the Ravens do, though, there is a need at the position with Flowers, Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor and little-used Tylan Wallace the only receivers under contract. Odell Beckham Jr. (who is technically under contract but expected to be released post-June 1 if not re-signed), Devin Duvernay and Laquon Treadwell, meanwhile, are likely headed for free agency.

And with the Ravens failing to have a 1,000-yard wide receiver for the sixth time in the past seven years, it would make sense to try to bolster the position.

With what’s been dubbed a deep draft class at receiver, there are plenty of intriguing prospects the Ravens will get a look at this week at the scouting combine, where receivers will work out on the field Saturday, along with quarterbacks and running backs (the latter being another area of interest for Baltimore). They’ve already interviewed several of them.

Team meetings with prospects are either informal and/or formal, with the latter lasting up to 20 minutes. Organizations can meet with up to 45 players over the course of the week, with the meetings taking place in the privacy of suites inside the stadium.

Among the other receivers Baltimore met with: Oregon’s Troy Franklin, Florida State’s Keon Coleman and Georgia’s Ladd McConkey and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. Of that group, all but Rosemy-Jacksaint project to be drafted the first two days, and each presents different skills.

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 23: Oregon Ducks wide receiver Troy Franklin (11) catches a pass for a touchdown against Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Travis Jay (4) in the second quarter at Autzen Stadium September 23, 2023. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)
Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin catches a pass for a touchdown against Colorado cornerback Travis Jay on Sept. 23, 2023. (Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Franklin is a 6-3, 180-pound burner with “long speed” who multiple defensive backs said this week was the toughest receiver they had to cover. He likened his own speed to that of Detroit Lions star Jameson Williams and said the biggest improvement he made this year was in yards after the catch. Franklin put up impressive numbers this past season, with 81 catches for 1,383 yards and 14 touchdowns.

He said he needs to get stronger, but added that it would be “cool” to play with Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

At 6-4 and 215 pounds, Coleman isn’t lacking strength. A former basketball player, he’s described in his combine profile as an “above the rim” artist with excellent ball skills and would potentially be a powerful yin to the diminutive Flowers’ yang after scoring 11 touchdowns inside the red zone for the Seminoles.

He likewise would welcome the opportunity to catch passes from the two-time NFL Most Valuable Player.

“I would be grateful for that,” Coleman said Friday. “And if they would bring Odell back that’d be even better. I don’t even see him as a vet. He’s still legit in my eyes. To be able to play with him, Lamar, Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman, that would be a dream.”

As for Mitchell, McConkey and Rosemy-Jacksaint, they already have familiarity with another member of the Ravens: offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

All three played under Monken when he was the offensive coordinator at Georgia from 2020 to 2022 (Mitchell started his career with the Bulldogs before transferring to Texas) and are intrigued by the possibility of reuniting with him in Baltimore.

“Just the fact I know his offense, it may be the difference,” Rosemy-Jacksaint said. “He’s a great coach.”

Whether the Ravens find a great receiver, particularly in the first round, remains to be seen.

There are more significant needs, including offensive tackle, cornerback, pass rusher and perhaps even running back, with Justice Hill, Owen Wright and Keaton Mitchell, who continues to work his way back from a torn ACL suffered in mid-December, the only backs on the roster. There’s also a chance the Ravens trade out of the first round to pick up an extra pick or two.

And because the days between now and the draft are as much about deception as anything else, there’s also the possibility that talking to several receivers at the combine is simply a smokescreen to get other teams to trade up ahead of the Ravens to draft one, thus leaving an offensive tackle or cornerback to Baltimore.

Still, the receiver position is at least on DeCosta’s mind, or at least appears to be.

“We will look at that,” he said. “I think it’s a very, very deep year in the draft. This draft class is pretty impressive from a receiver standpoint. We’ll assess that talent and see what kind of falls our way and then look at the free agency crop as well.”

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