Worried about Ravens' receivers? Eric DeCosta preaches patience

PHOENIX -- Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta spoke to reporters at the NFL owners meetings on Monday, and it didn't take long before a certain position became the topic of conversation.

"Everybody always wants to know about wide receivers in Baltimore," DeCosta said with a smile.

The reason for that is Baltimore just doesn't have any. There are only two wide receivers currently on the roster who caught a pass last season, and Willie Snead and Chris Moore combined for two touchdown catches. The other receivers are Jordan Lasley (inactive for all 16 games), Jaleel Scott (coming off injured reserve) and Quincy Adeboyejo (also coming off IR).

This is the second straight year that the Ravens will undergo a major overall at wide receiver. Last offseason, Baltimore replaced Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin with Michael Crabtree and John Brown. This year, the Ravens parted ways with Crabtree and Brown and have yet to add a pass-catcher.

What would DeCosta say to those wondering who will be running routes for Lamar Jackson?

"I think patience," DeCosta said. "We did not look at free agency as really a great way to address the wide receiver position this year. Last year, we thought it made a lot of sense. There were a lot of receivers in free agency last year. It didn't make as much sense for us this year. We look at the draft as an opportunity to do that. We also still think that there may be some players that might be interesting to us at a later date, that are on the market, that might become available, that could help our football team."

It will be interesting to see how much the Ravens prioritize the wide receiver position going forward. After Jackson took over for Joe Flacco in Week 11, the Ravens' wide receivers combined for an NFL-low 45 catches for 520 yards and three touchdowns. Baltimore could decide that splitting out a tight end such as Mark Andrews is a better option than signing any of the wide receivers who are available.

No one can criticize Baltimore for not overspending in a poor free-agent class for wide receivers. That's why Tyrell Williams received $11 million per season and Devin Funchess landed $10 million per year. What's left is Pierre Garcon, Jordy Nelson, Dontrelle Inman and Chris Hogan, which explains the Ravens' patience.

Drafting a wide receiver has been a troublesome endeavor for Baltimore. Only one wide receiver drafted by the Ravens has totaled 1,000 yards in a season (Torrey Smith), and none has reached the Pro Bowl.

This year, several wide receivers -- Ole Miss' D.K. Metcalf, Ohio State's Parris Campbell, Iowa State's Hakeem Butler and Oklahoma's Marquise Brown -- have been linked to the Ravens at the No. 22 overall pick.

"In the past, we've had some success, but we've also misevaluated the range of players," DeCosta said. "There's been guys that we wanted to take that got picked right before we could pick. That's a frustrating thing. I think this draft is really nice because we have a lot of options. There's a lot of players in this draft, draftable prospects, at the wide receiver position. I'm confident that we'll take at least one guy, at some point, who will have a chance to help this team."