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Baltimore Ravens' selection of Breshad Perriman was no-brainer

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- As soon as the Carolina Panthers had made their pick, Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome couldn't pick up the phone fast enough to call Breshad Perriman and inform the Central Florida wide receiver that he was the No. 26 overall pick.

In fact, Perriman broke the news on Twitter that he was selected by the Ravens before the pick was officially in.

In terms of fit, the Ravens couldn't have asked for a better offensive prospect to fall to them. Baltimore desperately needed an explosive playmaker, and Perriman is perhaps the most explosive playmaker in this draft.

Perriman averaged 20.9 yards per catch last season and 33.1 yards per touchdown. He caught a touchdown in seven straight games last season. He ran the 40-yard dash at his pro day in 4.24 seconds, which is faster than anyone at this year's combine.

The Ravens had Perriman ranked No. 14 on their draft board, and ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Perriman has the potential to be a Dez Bryant type of a receiver. It's simple: The Ravens needed someone to strike fear into defenses, and Perriman will cause the Steelers, Bengals and Browns to take a few extra steps back.

“It was a good DNA match for us,” assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said.

Some will consider this a risky pick. Perriman doesn't always look like a natural pass-catcher. He has suspect hands, and he dropped 14 percent of his passes last season (anything more than 8 percent is typically an issue).

The Ravens expressed no concern over Perriman's hands or concentration because they did their homework on him. Their coaching staff spent all week dissecting the top wide receivers in this year's draft and broke down Permian's catches and drops for an hour early Thursday morning.

"We came away feeling very good about his hands," coach John Harbaugh said. "I know the question regarding his hands and he has a certain number of drops. But most of those drops were last year and early this year. This is a developmental receiver who’s gotten a lot better the last two years. We think he’s on the rise."

The knee-jerk reaction is to label him another Torrey Smith. But Perriman is faster than Smith (a 4.44 time in the 40). He's two inches taller and has a much bigger wingspan. But he's also a receiver who isn't afraid to go across the middle and will gain yards after contact.

Perriman really showed up on the Ravens' radar in early February, when Newsome watched tape of Perriman. He immediately suggested that DeCosta should do the same.

"I saw a big, fast, physical stallion," DeCosta said. "He compliments our guys very well."

Injecting speed into the Ravens' wide receiver group was more than a need. It was a requirement in this year's draft.

After losing Smith in free agency, the Ravens were left with a 35-year-old Steve Smith and a bunch of possession receivers. The Ravens' history of drafting receivers has been the biggest smudge on their impeccable reputation, but it would be a disservice to a strong-armed quarterback like Joe Flacco to ignore the wide receiver position early in the draft.

The other options at wide receiver didn't stack up to Perriman. Arizona State's Jaelen Strong had size but lacked speed. Ohio State's Devin Smith had speed but lacked height. And Oklahoma's Dorial Green-Beckham had the tools but carried too much baggage.

The only receiver the Ravens were willing to take at No. 26 was Perriman, and they weren't sure he was going to last. Four receivers were selected in the top 20 picks, and other targeted players (running back Melvin Gordon, cornerback Kevin Johnson and cornerback Marcus Peters) were all gone by the 18th pick.

If Perriman wasn't there, the Ravens acknowledged that they were going to look to trade back.

"We were sweating it quite a bit," DeCosta said. "Our board got wiped. The last couple of years, we’ve had that happen to us. This year, we finally got something fall our way. We were getting wiped out, but fortunately he was there.”

Now, if Perriman can eliminate the drops, it will be the defenses in the AFC North who will be sweating.