INDIANAPOLIS – Can the Ravens strike gold in the draft at wide receiver like the Steelers have recently?
The Steelers have hit home runs in the draft over the past six years at wide receiver, drafting Antonio Brown (sixth round) and Emmanuel Sanders (third round) in 2010; Markus Wheaton (third round) in 2013, and Martavis Bryant (fourth round) in 2014. Brown might be the best wide receiver in the NFL. Sanders has become a 1,000-yard receiver with the Broncos, and Wheaton and Bryant both have 1,000-yard potential.
If Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has any secret to drafting wide receivers, he’s not sharing them at the combine this week, especially with the Ravens.
“I don’t know if there’s any formula for it,” Colbert said Wednesday. “We evaluate the receivers just like we evaluate any other position. We’ve just been very fortunate. Can he run, can he separate, can he make the contested catch, and he make big tough catch in the end zone, can he run after the catch? If he can check off all those boxes, chances are he’s going to be a pretty good player.”
Don’t expect the Ravens to take a wide receiver at No. 6. Laquon Treadwell of Mississippi, who says he’s not running at the combine, is generally regarded as the top wide receiver prospect. However, Treadwell looks like a reach at No. 6, due to his lack of top-end speed.
However, with Steve Smith coming off Achilles surgery at age 36, and with Breshad Perriman unable to play last season (knee surgery), the Ravens could go wide receiver in the second round. Those who could be available include Corey Coleman of Baylor, Josh Doctson of TCU, Will Fuller of Notre Dame, and Michael Thomas of Ohio St.
The Ravens will track all of those prospects at the combine. If the Ravens do draft a wide receiver, they won’t mind emulating the Steelers’ recent success.