Monday, March 23, 2009

Should the Ravens go WR with pick No. 26?

Wide receiver is clearly a need position for the Ravens that will be addressed in the upcoming draft. The question is “When?” The Ravens currently have the No. 26 pick in the draft and many mock drafts have them selecting one of these three collegiate receivers: Darrius Heyward-Bey Percy Harvin, or Hakeem Nicks.

The position is one of if not the most difficult position to project to the professional level and consequently there have been more wasted first day picks on receivers than nearly every other position. Teams that select first round receivers almost seem compelled to put the player on the field to start their rookie campaigns and that’s a tall task.

Effective NFL pass catchers must be able to grasp new and expanded playbooks, read defenses and make pre-snap adjustments that parallel the same adjustments made by their quarterbacks. It takes time and until it really clicks in for the young receivers, they won’t play as fast – slowed by the mental processing that takes place immediately before and after the quarterback says, “Hut!”

To challenge a draft prospect on a cerebral level and determine their mental processing prowess, NFL scouts subject draft eligible players to the Wonderlic Test. A score of 17 is considered average for a wide receiver. Heyward-Bey scored a 14, Harvin a 12 and Hakeem Nicks an 11.

Comparatively speaking the other projected first round choices at the position, Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin scored 15 and 27 respectively. Draw your own conclusions…

Darrius Heyward-Bey seems to be the preferred choice for the Ravens by the local fan base. He has all of the desirable measurables (save the Wonderlic) that teams look for in a receiver: size, strength and speed. But his production at Maryland is questionable at best.

Defenders of Heyward-Bey might successfully explain away the lack of productivity and point to things like inconsistency at quarterback. Still his inability to dominate given his ideal physical skills will give NFL GM’s pause and the pause may lead to a pass on DHB when teams are on the clock during Round 1 come April 25.

North Carolina Tar Heel Hakeem Nicks was far more productive in the ACC than DHB and his style of play is very reminiscent of Michael Irvin. Nicks ran a 4.49 forty at the combines but chose not to run during his pro player day at the university. Word is that Nicks put on about 14 pounds during the three week period between the combines and his pro day in Chapel Hill.


Ravcolt said...

The primary goal for the Ravens is to protect Joe Flaccco. Adding skill positions is a luxury, while blocking for our QB is a necessity. I believe the Ravens should add either a RT or C in the first round. New C Matt Birk is only a 2-3 year player at best, with no clear understudy. The Ravens have gone thru something like 13 right tackles since 2000. Why mess around with your franchise QB? This should be a no-brainer. And, I believe the Steelers will take C Alex Mack if he is still on the board. I'd rather have him blocking for us.

Hakeem Abduct A-donut said...

I thought Nicks would be the safest bet of those three WR's that might be on the board at # 26 but now it appears that he has a fetish for Krispy Kremes gaining that much weight in three weeks.

How does a kid who is closing in on the biggest payday of his life gourge himself like that? Now I see the Wonderlic score and it becomes a little clearer. What a knucklehead.

How about the Ravens while on the clock call Arizona and offer the # 26 pick for Boldin and the Cards' third round pick. By then the Ravens can use that third rounder on Nicks because come April 25th the guy will weigh 240 and slide down draft boards faster than you can say "supersize it."

Anonymous said...

Where can you find Wonderlic scores for this year's players? Are they available for last year's draft? I'd be interested in seeing the correlation between scores and performance.