The early draft buzz on the first round has had the Ravens targeting a linebacker, obviously a position of need with the retirement of Ray Lewis and the free-agent departure of Dannell Ellerbe. The names Manti Te’o and Kevin Minter have kept coming up, especially Minter, an inside linebacker from LSU. But now it could be the chatter is re-buzzing toward a wide receiver because of the trade of Anquan Boldin when he wouldn’t agree to a salary cut.
ESPN’s Todd McShay likes Louisiana Tech wide-out Quinton Patton for the Ravens. We’ve also seen California’s Keenan Allen mentioned, though four mock drafts at NFL.com have Allen being selected well before the Ravens’ turn comes up at the end of the first round.
(For the moment, the O.G. of draft experts, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., is sticking with Florida safety Matt Elam for the Ravens.)
Here’s some of what NFL.com says about Patton, 6 feet, 204 pounds:
*He’s compared to Reggie Wayne, which sounds pretty darn good, but NFL.com cites issues with how Patton catches the ball. Though he extends his hands, he has shown problems with securing the ball when challenged by a defensive back.
*On the other hand, Patton is described as skilled at grabbing jump balls in the end zone and at maneuvering along the sidelines.
*If the Ravens want another physical receiver to replace the one they just lost in Boldin, Patton apparently has those qualities — attacking would-be tacklers from the secondary and throwing blocks downfield.
*Overall, he’s graded as a top-64 pick and “eventually, a very good starter.”
So Patton could be a reach in the first round? Keep listening for the buzz.