Mel Kiper Jr.: It's a bad year for wide receivers in the first round of draft

Calvin Ridley is projected to be the first receiver taken in the draft, but he might be gone when it's time for the Ravens to pick. Andrew Hancock for ESPN

If you want the Baltimore Ravens to take a wide receiver at the No. 16 overall pick, you'll likely be disappointed.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., whose second mock draft came out Wednesday, believes there is only one guaranteed first-round wide receiver in this year's draft, and Alabama's Calvin Ridley is expected to be taken before the Ravens go on the clock in the middle of the first round.

"It's a bad year for receivers in the first round," Kiper said in Wednesday's conference call, "and a really good for receivers in the second through fifth round."

Based on that assessment, the Ravens have to either trade up to get Ridley or take a wide receiver in the second and third rounds. Ridley has projected to go as high as No. 8 to the Chicago Bears, but Baltimore could jump up a few spots if he gets out of the top 10.

The other option is waiting and taking a receiver in the second or third rounds. The Ravens have a pick in each of those rounds, and they should get a compensatory third-rounder for losing offensive tackle Rick Wagner last offseason.

Kiper mentioned Maryland's D.J. Moore, Washington's Dante Pettis, Oklahoma State's James Washington and Colorado State's Michael Gallup as receivers who could go to the Ravens in the second round.

This could be the best route to go if last year is any indication. The three rookie wide receivers who totaled more than 700 yards receiving last season were not drafted in the first round: Pittsburgh's JuJu Smith-Schuster (second round), L.A. Rams' Cooper Kupp (third round) and Jacksonville's Keelan Cole (undrafted).

Kiper said UCLA's Jordan Lasley is the receiver who can improve his stock the most in next week's combine. Lasley tied a school record with seven 100-yard receiving games, but he's considered a character risk.

Lasley was suspended for four games this season for unspecified reasons, fought with a teammate in practice in 2015 and missed a team bus before a game in 2016. He also was arrested twice in 2016 (once for possession of alcohol as a minor and another time for using a fake ID), according to the Los Angeles city attorney's office.

"If he interviews well and they do their due diligence and they can reconcile all that, then Jordan Lalasley from UCLA could be a first-round pick," Kiper said. "He's a first-round talent now. The combine for him will be very important."

Wide receiver is among the top priorities for the Ravens in the draft. Baltimore could be without its top two receivers from last year because Mike Wallace is a free agent and Jeremy Maclin could get cut. Breshad Perriman, the team's 2015 first-round pick, has failed to live up to expectations.

Since 2008, the Ravens have only taken a wide receiver in the first three rounds twice: Torrey Smith in 2011 and Perriman in 2015.