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Wide Receivers Keep Getting Bigger

Joe Hortiz has seen the position change before his eyes over the past 14 years.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 at 11:58 am | Categories: Ryan Mink

During his 14 years with the Ravens, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz has seen a shift in wide receivers.

“The position’s gotten bigger,” Hortiz said. “It seems like it’s continuing to get bigger. And the corner position is getting bigger to catch up.”

General Manager Ozzie Newsome said he’s in the market for a wide receiver. May he be looking for a big-bodied one in the draft?

This year’s draft class has plenty to choose from. Here’s a list of top wideouts and their size:

  • Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State; 6-foot-1, 210 pounds
  • Michael Floyd, Notre Dame; 6-3, 229
  • Kendall Wright, Baylor; 5-10, 194
  • Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech; 6-4, 200
  • Rueben Randle, LSU; 6-3, 205
  • Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers; 6-2, 215
  • Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina; 6-4, 230
  • Marvin McNutt, Iowa; 6-2, 213
  • Brian Quick, Appalachian State; 6-3, 209
  • Tommy Streeter, Miami; 6-5, 210

The Ravens currently don’t have a big, tall receiver on the roster. Their tallest is 6-foot-2, 205-pound Tandon Doss. The heaviest is 6-foot-1, 223-pound Anquan Boldin.

The Ravens ranked 20th in the league in average yards per reception last year (11.6).

One way to improve on that is to find wideouts who gain more yards after catch. Baltimore running back Ray Rice was third in the NFL among all players with 696 yards after catch last season. Torrey Smith was the team’s top wideout, tied at 78th with 250.

The other option is to throw it deep. The Ravens did that well last season, as Smith was 11th in the NFL in average yards at catch (how many yards they had already picked up when making the reception) with 11.8. Boldin was 19th with 11.

Having a big-bodied wideout would add another weapon in that category.

“I think there’s a trend toward bigger wideouts because you get the 20, 30, 40-yard gains,” Hortiz said. “Those guys who are going to go up and get the jump ball and make the big plays can really tilt the game. So I think teams are looking for those impact-type guys.”

It’s not a case of players being born bigger. Hortiz believes it’s a case of larger athletes opting to stay at wideout to satisfy the NFL’s need.

“Guys want to play that position,” Hortiz said. “They’ve gone from a tight end to wideout and they’ve stayed lean and stayed fast. There’s a good group of them this year and there will probably be good groups going forward.”

Floyd, Sanu and Randle are three players who could possibly be available for the Ravens in the first or second round. Floyd has been linked to Baltimore in a few mock drafts.

Asked for his take on their combine showings, Hortiz said Floyd “ran well” with a (4.47 40-yard dash).

“Sanu is not a big speed guy, but when you watch him on film he catches the ball extremely well,” Hortiz said. “[Randle] does a little bit of both. He runs pretty well and then he catches the ball well.”

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