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There’s very differing opinions on how this year’s top-end receiver prospects should be ranked.
Like many draft analysts, ESPN’s Todd McShay projects Smith going to the Ravens. But unlike his peers, he has him headed for Baltimore in the second round, not the first.
Those draftniks heavily factor what they hear from scouts and NFL front office personnel into their rankings. So how can opinions vary so widely on a certain prospect?
Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz smiled, as if he wasn’t surprised at all.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Hortiz said. “I think that happens with every position, but wideout is probably more frequent than any other. That’s the one position where they come in the biggest range of shapes and sizes.”
“You can have five different guys look at five different players and have 25 different orders.”
Teams value different wide receivers based on what they need and wideouts bring very diverse skills to the table.
For instance, one team may covet a wide receiver that can go up and make leaping catches down the field, such as Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Baldwin. Thus, they may have Baldwin higher on their board. Others may be looking for a shifty playmaker to open up the middle of the field, such as Kentucky’s Randall Cobb.
But while the 6-foot-4 Baldwin and 5-foot-10 Cobb are very different players, unlike many positions, they have the same title of wide receiver. It all depends on how much value teams (or draft analysts) put in different types.
With the example of Smith, some teams may not need a downfield threat as much as they need a standout route-runner to catch 10 balls a game.
“I think with a guy like Torrey Smith, the people that see him as a first-round guy value his speed and big playmaking and return ability,” Hortiz said. “The people that see him later find things they don’t like about him and knock him for that.”