Ravens to eye red zone, 3rd down targets at combine

Ravens to eye red zone, 3rd down targets at combine
February 19, 2014, 9:15 am
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Joe Flacco has a glaring need for a target who plays big in the red zone, and who gets open consistently on third down. That should help narrow the Ravens’ focus as they study and interview wide receivers and tight ends this weekend at the NFL combine.

Thanks to Torrey Smith, the Ravens already have speed at wide receiver. If free agent Jacoby Jones re-signs, that would bring back more speed.

However, red zone and third-down offense was a serious problem for the Ravens in 2013.  According to sportingcharts.com, 27.05 percent of the Ravens’ drives were three-and-outs. Only the Rams, Giants, Jets, and Jaguars had a higher percentage of three-and-outs. Not surprisingly, those teams also missed the playoffs.

Rookie Marlon Brown led the Ravens with seven touchdown catches. But there were five receivers in the AFC North alone who had more touchdown catches than Brown – A. J. Green (11) and Marvin Jones (10) of the Bengals, Jerricho Cotchery (10) and Antonio Brown (8) of the Steelers, and Josh Gordon (9) of the Browns.

Fortunately for the Ravens, this is draft is loaded at wide receiver, and multiple red zone/third down targets with first-round credentials should be available when they pick either 16th or 17th. Among them are:

-- Davante Adams, 6-foot-2, 212-pound WR, Fresno St.

-- Kelvin Benjamin, 6-foot-4, 233-pound WR, Florida St.

-- Eric Ebron, 6-foot-4, 231-pound TE, North Carolina

-- Mike Evans, 6-foot-4, 220-pound WR, Texas A & M.

Evans may be gone when the Ravens pick, but it’s extremely unlikely that Adams, Benjamin, Ebron, and Evans will all go in the top 15.

If the Ravens land a wide receiver in free agency, receiver drafting a receiver will become less of a priority. But as the Ravens head to the combine, they know they kind of receiver they need, and they have a draft where they can found one.

[RELATED: Will Ravens draft a running back?]