Ravens keeping an eye on receivers

OWINGS MILLS -- There's at least one intriguing scenario that the Baltimore Ravens could be faced with during this weekend's NFL draft. What if Ohio State star wide receiver Ted Ginn plummeted all the way down to the Ravens' 29th overall pick of the first round?

It's not quite as farfetched as it might sound. Despite glittery past impressions from the Buckeyes' All-American, his stock has been on a downward spiral ever since he injured his foot celebrating a touchdown in the BCS national title game.
Ginn still hasn't fully recovered and struggled at a recent campus workout, falling down during five of his six pass routes before the session was halted. He reportedly covered 40 yards between 4.38 and 4.42 seconds, off his previous-best of 4.35.
While Ginn has drawn criticism for being fragile and a tad one-dimensional, you can't teach his world-class speed. It's unlikely that his game-breaking potential could make the Ravens ignore more pressing needs like their offensive line, but it would be a tough call at that stage of the first round.
"If you want a definition of a speed receiver, watch Ted Ginn," Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said. "Anytime you get a guy who can run by people and score touchdowns, I think teams would want that kind of guy. There are probably seven or eight receivers who can be taken in the first round or definitely early in the second round, and each of those receivers is pretty talented."
Although the Ravens are well-stocked at receiver with Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams, they lack depth and a consistently dangerous deep threat.
Plus, Mason, 34, has repeatedly complained about his scaled-back role. Speculation has him on the trading block even though the Ravens have said he remains in their plans. Reserves Clarence Moore and Devard Darling haven't been productive at all.
Meanwhile, return specialist B.J. Sams is still rehabbing a fractured ankle that required surgery and will likely keep him out until training camp. He also faces his second DUI charge in court next month.
If the Ravens have the opportunity to draft a fast wide receiver with return skills or potential, it could be a tempting proposition. They had at least two candidates that fit that description in for visits: Washington State's Jason Hill, a 6-foot, 204-pounder with 4.32 speed, and Kansas State's Yamon Figurs, the fastest prospect at the scouting combine with a 4.29 clocking.
Hill battled injuries as a senior, but caught 62 passes for 1,097 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. Figurs averaged 14.7 yards per punt return last year, returning two for scores.
Jacoby Jones, an imposing sleeper from Division II Lane College (Tenn.), has been called this year's Marques Colston. Ravens receivers coach Mike Johnson attended his campus workout.
"Jones is an excellent return man with a lot of upside potential," DeCosta said regarding a player who ran back three kicks for touchdowns last season and caught 200 career passes for 2,750 yards and 21 touchdowns after transferring from Southeastern Louisiana where he originally enrolled on a track scholarship.
DeCosta also praised UTEP return specialist Johnnie Lee Higgins, who caught 82 passes for 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns last season while averaging 23.4 yards per punt return with two returned for scores, along with accomplished Michigan return man Steve Breaston.
"Both of those guys are very dangerous," DeCosta said. "You always have to be aware of what they can do in the open field."
NOTES: Florida State linebacker Lawrence Timmons and Fresno State cornerback Marcus McCauley visited the Ravens earlier this month. … Baltimore signed exclusive-rights free agent return specialist Cory Ross after signing restricted free agent receiver Clarence Moore to an $850,000 one-year tender.
Although the Baltimore Ravens are well-stocked at wide receiver with Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams, they lack depth at the position and a consistently dangerous deep threat.
There's also some cause for concern about incumbent return specialist B.J. Sams because he's still recovering from a fractured ankle that required surgery and will likely keep him out until training camp. Plus, there's his pending DUI trial in Towson next month. Here are a few multi-dimensional prospects, including pure return specialists, that could be on the Ravens' radar during this weekend's draft.
Player School Size Speed
Ted Ginn Ohio State 5-11, 178 4.4
Jason Hill Washington State 6-0, 204 4.32
Yamon Figurs Kansas State 5-11, 174, 4.29
Jacoby Jones Lane College (Tenn.) 6-2, 210 4.49
Johnnie Lee Higgins UTEP 5-11, 184 4.43
Steve Breaston Michigan 6-0, 190 4.45
Paul Williams Fresno State 6-1, 205 4.48
Terry Richardson Arizona State 6-0, 190 4.45
Syndric Steptoe Arizona 5-8, 194 4.59
Ryne Robinson Miami (Oh.) 5-9, 179 4.49
Marquay McDaniel Hampton 5-10 205 4.55
Joe Fernandez Fresno State 5-10 178 4.48
Quinton Jones Boise State 5-9, 177 4.43
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

Ravens Insider Top Stories