The 2018 NFL Draft is slowly approaching, and here at Purple Reign Show, Phil and I have taken it upon ourselves to face off in the public’s eye, and show you where our head is at, as far as who we feel are the top prospects at each position. We will be putting out a series of co-written articles, one for each position, discussing one or two prospects (depends on if we agree or not) that would be a fit for the Ravens in the first round. We’re going to begin with the position that has been of most concern in Baltimore – the wide receivers. Let’s get into it.
Chibs’ pick: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
- 30 3/8″ arm length
- 9 7/8″ hands
- 4.47 40
- 35.5″ vert
- 115″ broad
- 7.09 sec cone drill
Christian Kirk is widely considered one of the top wideouts in the draft – some even say he has a higher ceiling than Calvin Ridley. He’s built like a running back – evenly distributed strength throughout his body, as well as a good amount of athleticism to go along with it. He’s good in coverage, while excelling coming off of press, and has an insane amount of toughness once the ball gets into his hands (over 3,000 all-purpose yards, 40 touchdowns). Viewed as mostly a slot receiver, Kirk also has returner upside, which would fill a position that Baltimore has mostly struggled with over the past few years, despite fielding one of the best special teams units in the league. As a receiver, Kirk has shown an innate ability to duck down and cradle poorly thrown low throws, as well as having natural hands – the ability to catch whatever is thrown at him. This would benefit the Ravens offense (see: Joe Flacco) greatly, due to the less-than-prolific passing offense that has been put on the field during the past couple of seasons.
Kirk brings a different skillset than Michael Crabtree or John Brown, and would slide into the number 2 (assuming we use Crabtree as our number one) wideout position from day 1. He plays very consistently – both in tempo and in aggressiveness/competitiveness. He takes good angles against press, and can ‘sink’ into zone coverage with ease. He’s good at adjusting to get more separation and space, as well as avoid contact. He plays faster than he is, but shows quickness rather than speed, which isn’t a bad thing, considering Brown and Chris Moore are already on the roster as speed guys.
Now, he does show a propensity to let defenders ‘crowd’ him, resulting in him having issues with downfield coverage. His average catch radius means he needs throws closer to his frame than somebody with a larger wingspan, but he balances that out with the hand ability that I mentioned earlier. He needs coaching on his decisions in the return game (again, he’d be part of one of the best special teams units in the league), and he needs to learn to use his strength to fight off coverage, but overall, he has no issues that can’t be coached out by Rosburg/Engram/Urban.
The Ravens, if they are not already, should be giving Kirk a long, hard look – not necessarily at 16, but if they can find a trade partner back into the 20s, he would provide an immediate boost to a position that was regarded as ‘putrid’ in 2017, and hasn’t had a young breath of life in it for many years. He made an immediate impact as an Aggie, and would do the same in Baltimore.
Phil’s Pick: Courtland Sutton, SMU
• 32 3/8″ arm length
• 9 3/4″ hands
• 4.54 40
• 35.5″ vert
• 124″ broad
• 6.57 sec cone drill
Calvin Ridley and DJ Moore might be the receiver prospects that Ravens’ fans know best but Sutton is a player they should get to know immediately. He has all the physical tools to be the best receiver in this year’s class.
Sutton had 31 career touchdowns at SMU with an average quarterback situation. He’s versatile, making plays on the outside but also being able to stretch the field in the slot. With the additions of veterans Michael Crabtree and John Brown, the Ravens would have the flexibility to use him in both situations. On film it’s obvious he takes plays off from time to time and his route running isn’t super polished but these are aspects of any rookie’s game that can be adjusted with good coaching.
His biggest weakness by most draft experts has been a lack of separation on some of his routes. So what did Courtland Sutton do to work on that? Trained this offseason with former Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin.
The Ravens need more playmakers. That much is obvious. Sutton averaged at least 16 yards per catch over his three collegiate seasons. His size makes him an ideal redzone threat and give the Ravens an outside threat for the rest of Joe Flacco’s career. He’s a matchup nightmare and the Ravens could potentially trade back with a QB hungry team and still get him. Make it happen Ozzie.