<
>

Todd McShay mock 4.0: Ravens take playmaking receiver

3/30/2015

The Baltimore Ravens need a playmaking wide receiver, and ESPN's Todd McShay gives them a very good one in his latest mock draftInsider.

McShay has the Ravens taking Arizona State's Jaelen Strong with the No. 26 overall pick. He would replace Torrey Smith as the team's deep threat, but in a different way.

Not a burner like Smith, Strong uses his size (6-foot-2, 217 pounds) and strength to make the contested catches. He can also turn short passes into big gains because he's so physical after the catch. And he's more of a natural pass-catcher than Smith.

Strong is considered a safe first-round pick, which is important after two arrest-filled offseasons for the Ravens. He often gets high grades for his work ethic.

The reason Strong would fall to the bottom of the first round is his lack of flash. It takes time for him to reach his top-end speed, and he doesn't create a lot of separation. McShay has rated Strong as the draft's 27th-best prospect and the No. 5 wide receiver.

Strong would immediately start alongside Steve Smith and could elevate to the clear-cut No. 1 target for Joe Flacco by 2016. Right now at receiver, the Ravens have Smith and a bunch of role players like Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown and Michael Campanaro.

The Ravens have only taken two wide receivers in the first round: Travis Taylor (2000) and Mark Clayton (2005). Strong declared for the draft after a stellar junior season when he caught 82 passes for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns.

In McShay's fourth mock draft, the Ravens had their choice of Strong or Washington cornerback Marcus Peters in the first round. This would be a difficult decision for the Ravens. Strong and Peters both are impact players at positions of need.

Ravens' picks in Todd McShay mocks

1.0: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

2.0: Jalen Collins, CB, Louisiana State

3.0: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

4.0: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State