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Breshad Perriman Has To Be A Difference-Maker For Ravens This Season

Posted Mar 30, 2017

The 2015 first-round pick showed flashes of his immense potential last season after missing his entire rookie year with a knee injury. With free agency’s big names now off the market, it’s on Perriman to take the next step for the Ravens offense to flourish.

The heat is on Breshad Perriman to live up to his potential.

The Ravens were reportedly in the mix for some of the top wide receivers in free agency, including Brandon Marshall and Terrelle Pryor, but they ended up signing with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, respectively.

That means Perriman is currently in position for a huge role next year, and Head Coach John Harbaugh made no bones about the need for him to take the next step in his development.

"He has to be out there making a difference for us. Period. End of story," Harbaugh said Tuesday at the NFL league meetings.

Perriman was the Ravens’ first-round pick in 2015, but missed his entire rookie season due to a lingering knee injury. Last season was essentially his rookie year, and he showed flashes of his blazing speed and playmaking ability.

Perriman caught 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 15.1 yards per catch.

He scored a touchdown in three out of four games from Weeks 10-13. There was a twisting 27-yard touchdown against the Cleveland Browns, impressive fading 14-yard grab in the back of the end zone and a 53-yard gallop against the Miami Dolphins.

At the same time, Perriman had too many concentration drops and didn’t finish some big plays, including a possible game-winning touchdown against the Redskins. He topped out at four catches for 62 yards in the season finale in Cincinnati.

Outside of Amari Cooper, the wide receivers taken early in the 2015 draft have yet to pan out. The other first-round receivers were Miami's DeVante Parker, Philadelphia's Nelson Agholor and Indianapolis' Phillip Dorsett. High second-round picks Devin Smith, Dorial Green-Beckham and Devin Funchess have also gotten off to slow starts. Green-Beckham was traded.

The Ravens still very much believe Perriman can emerge from the pack.

"With Breshad, I think you see talent. This guy is supremely talented," Harbaugh said.

"He's fast, fast, fast. He's big, big, big. He can track a ball downfield and go up and make a play. We need him to be. He has to be. We took him as the 26th pick in the draft. I also know he's very motivated, and he's working very hard to be the best he can be."

The Ravens have lost Steve Smith Sr. to retirement and Kamar Aiken in free agency. That leaves last year’s leader in receptions and yards, Mike Wallace, and Perriman as the only receivers with double-digit reception totals currently on the roster.

Baltimore likes the potential of rising rookie Chris Moore and Michael Campanaro. The Ravens could still sign Anquan Boldin in free agency, or draft a wide receiver in the early rounds.

But even if any of those combinations happen, the Ravens need big production from Perriman. His rookie season was physically and mentally difficult. The knee injury, his father’s serious illness and the death of good friend and cornerback Tray Walker shook Perriman.

He’s beyond those hurdles now, and has the ability to become a top-tier wideout.

"I think he's matured tremendously in the last two years," Harbaugh said. "The bottom line is he has to be."

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