Over the course of 14 drafts, the Ravens have selected 15 wide receivers, more than any other positional group.
Yet of those 15, few have lived up to expectations.
Patrick Johnson, Brandon Stokley, Travis Taylor, Ron Johnson, Devard Darling, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Yamon Figurs, and Marcus Smith have all heard their names called by the Ravens within the first four rounds over the years.
Among that group, only Stokley, Taylor and Clayton have posted a season with more than 600 receiving yards or more than three receiving touchdowns. Stokley didn't achieve either number until his sixth year in the league (teaming up with Peyton Manning helped that a little bit), Taylor had one strong year in 2002 but failed to reach his projected level, and Clayton has been a solid complimentary receiver but also has yet to live up to his first-round selection.
Now, this isn't a problem that's exclusive to the Ravens. According to most NFL scouts and front office personnel, wide receiver is the one of the top-two most difficult positions to successfully draft, with quarterback being the other.
But why is that? Why do you find far more Patrick Johnson's than Calvin Johnson's?
General manager Ozzie Newsome, who we all know to be one of the most successful drafting GMs in the league, says it's because the receiver position is much more advanced at the pro level than it is in college.
"They have to adjust to coverages, they have to adjust to splits, they have to understand 'hots' [hot routes], inside adjust, they have to understand depth," Newsome said. "It's a lot of things that go on with a receiver before the ball is even snapped. And then once the ball is snapped, there are probably another five or 10 things that go on with that guy, and then the next thing you know, you have to catch the football. So, it makes for a difficult transition."
Added into that, Newsome said, is that production in the college game does not always translate to the pro level for a wide receiver like it would at other spots.
"You can just turn around and hand the ball off to a running back, and his instincts from youth league [and] up are just going to take effect," the Ravens' GM said. "But with a receiver, it takes a little bit more than that."
Michael Lombardi, who previously headed the Oakland Raiders' and Cleveland Browns' personnel departments and is now an NFL Network analyst, says a receiver's production often declines in the NFL because he faces a lot more press coverage and tight man-to-man defense than he did in college.
"In college football there's a lot of free access for the receivers for them just to run their routes without any disruption, without having to compete at the line of scrimmage to get open," Lombardi said, "and then they come to the National Football League and they find that pretty much every route is being challenged at the line of scrimmage.
"So it's a tough position to really see how a guy can go from being not covered up and having free access to moving into playing in a tight man to man, bump and run type of scheme."
Many mock drafts have the Ravens taking Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas with the 25th overall pick, which would give Joe Flacco a young, explosive receiver that he can grow with for the next several years.
Lombardi would advise against that strategy.
"There's a lot of margin for error [with wide receivers], that's why I prefer not to draft them in the first round," Lombardi said. "I think you can find them in later rounds."