At 6-foot-6 and 238 pounds, former Georgia Tech wide receiver Darren Waller was the tallest and biggest wide receiver in the draft. That clearly made an impression on Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome.
“We all covet big receivers,” Newsome said at a post-draft news conference. “To get a big receiver, another big target for Joe (Flacco), we know how tough it is facing receivers that are that type of size in the red area. He brings all of that.”
Waller begins rookie mini-camp with the Ravens this weekend. He has been given jersey No. 12. He is now the Ravens’ tallest and heaviest wide receiver.
Chosen in the sixth round, Waller was one of two wide receivers selected along with first-rounder Breshad Perriman from Central Florida. He is one of eight on the roster.
Part of the Ravens’ evaluation of Waller included an interview with college scouting director Joe Hortiz at the East-West Shrine Game in January in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hortiz in particular wanted to know about Waller’s two suspensions at Tech for violations of the student-athlete conduct code, specifically for testing positive for marijuana in drug tests.
“Sometimes, you go into an interview with some of these guys and you’re thinking you’re ready to walk away and use it as the final dagger,” Hortiz said Saturday at a news conference after the draft.
Instead, Hortiz, who spoke with Waller with a scout representing another team and said they “did a pretty good job of getting after him,” was impressed by Waller’s maturity and honesty. Waller said prior to the draft last week that his marijuana use was immature and selfish but that he had learned from it.
“He was honest and upfront about it and didn’t hide from it,” Hortiz said. “He told us about his plan and how he’s dealing with it, how he’s continued to deal with it.”
A couple notes from draft day: Waller said he was alerted Saturday morning that Baltimore might select him. Wide receivers coach Bobby Engram called Waller to tell him that he was one of his favorites from the NFL draft combine and that the team was looking at him in the fifth or sixth round.
When he was actually picked, Waller was on the phone with Newsome for about 20 minutes prior to his pick. Waller said that the Ravens were just biding time “to make sure nobody picks you.”
Said Waller, “He was just asking me stuff, ‘Oh, where do you live in metro Atlanta?’ ‘Do you have any siblings?’”
After the pick went through, Waller was put on the phone with coach John Harbaugh and owner Steve Bisciotti. Waller described himself as relieved after the pick. He had spent the day trying to keep his mind off draft by playing the FIFA Soccer video game, but said that “every couple of minutes, I would glance down at my phone, see if it was going to ring or not.”
Ravens wide receiver draft history
For the past 10 years, the performance of Baltimore wide receivers by seasons, starts/games played and catches.
2006: Demetrius Williams, fourth round (five seasons, 5/46, 63)
2007: Yamon Figurs, third round (four seasons, 0/34, 5)
2008: Marcus Smith, fourth round (two season, 0/21, 0); Justin Harper, seventh (one season, 0/2, 0)
2010: David Reed, fifth round (four seasons, 0/36, 6)
2011: Torrey Smith, second round (four seasons, 62/64, 213); Tandon Doss, fourth (three seasons, 2/35, 26)
2012: Tommy Streeter, sixth round (one season, 0/2, 0)
2013: Aaron Mellette, seventh round (did not play)
2014: Michael Campanaro, seventh round (one season, 0/4, 7)