Michael Campanaro has a chance to learn from the best during his rookie season in Baltimore.
The seventh-round draft pick from Wake Forest will take his cues from veteran Steve Smith, Sr., who knows what it takes to thrive in the NFL as an undersized target. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound receiver has been one of the NFL's best over the last decade, and Campanaro is eager to learn from the 14-year veteran.
"[When] I go out there and I'm with the receivers, Steve and I are definitely the smallest, shortest guys there. He is a Hall of Fame receiver," Campanaro said during rookie minicamp. "He's gotten it done for so many years. So, having a guy like that who I can learn from him and see the little things he does preparing with his game, it's going to help out a ton."
Campanaro, 5-9 and 191 pounds, has a similar build to his elder counterpart. That size hasn't limited Smith, as he's racked up more than 12,000 receiving yards and 67 touchdowns in his career.
The Ravens expect Smith's arrival to pay dividends for the entire offense, and he will especially help ease Campanaro's transition to the NFL. Smith can work the middle of the field from the slot, and then help groom Campanaro for future years.
"I'm just learning the playbook," Campanaro said. " We've got a Hall of Fame receiver in there in Steve Smith, so it's good just watching him and learning from a guy like that, and Torrey [Smith] and Jacoby [Jones]."
The Ravens have high expectations for what Campanaro can eventually do in [bring to?] the offense.
They targeted him in the draft by giving up a sixth-round pick next season to move back into the seventh round for him. They want to give him time to develop, and the hope is that he could become a valuable weapon out of the slot for many years to come.
"It seems like every year, we're always looking at these slot receivers on other teams, and their really good guys are always sixth-round picks, seventh-round picks, undrafted free agents who develop. And we think Mike can be one of those guys," Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said after the draft.
"There is a need for a guy like him; he has a unique skill set. We think he brings something different to the menu, and we think he can compete."
Campanaro was a highly productive player throughout his college career, catching 67 passes for 803 yards and six touchdowns last year. He worked primarily out of the slot and excelled in that role during the week of practice at the Senior Bowl. His performance during a private workout with the Ravens leading up to the draft cemented their interest in him.
He's entering a crowded position for playing time this season, but his current focus is to take as much as possible from Smith and the proven veterans ahead of him.
"I think I could help out the team in any way — special teams and offense," Campanaro said. "I'm just going to keep working hard and see where I end up."