The Ravens’ headline offseason moves at wide receiver came in free agency with the addition of veterans Michael Crabtree, John “Smokey” Brown and Willie Snead IV.
But there are a couple other newcomers who shouldn’t be overlooked as they try to carve out a role in the Ravens’ crowded receiver rotation.
Fourth-round rookie Jaleel Scott and fifth-round selection Jordan Lasley flashed at various times during practice this spring and early summer and have momentum rolling into training camp.
“We threw a lot at these guys early on, so heads were spinning a little bit,” Wide Receivers Coach Bobby Engram said. “But once they got comfortable in the playbook, you see their natural abilities take over. … Both of those guys bring a level of playmaking to the team that we enjoy.”
Lasley and Scott both said adjusting to the playbook has been the most difficult part of their transition to the NFL so far.
At UCLA, Lasley played in a West Coast system similar to what the Ravens run, but the terminology and certain intricacies are new. At New Mexico State, Scott was in a spread offense that was very different from the Ravens’ system.
Scott’s finest day was during Organized Team Activities when he caught several jump-balls in the end zone and a nice back-shoulder touchdown, showing off his potential as a big-bodied red-zone threat.
“I’ve been doing that since Day 1,” he said with a smile.
Scott is a work in progress when it comes to his all-around game. The 6-foot-5, 218-pound target showed a knack for making contested catches down the field, but knows he needs to improve on his route-running and breaks on shorter and intermediate routes.
“Coach Engram is working with me a lot,” Scott said. “Just the little stuff, the little fundamentals – sinking your hips, starts and stance. Other than that, it’s going pretty smooth.”
Lasley immediately brought an energy to Ravens practice. He has a certain confidence about him, and it shined during one rookie minicamp practice in which he frequently beat whoever lined up opposite him and made plays all over the field.
Lasley’s favorite play he’s made so far was a deep go route he caught along the sideline at the start of minicamp versus the veterans.
“Jordan is playing fast, he’s great with the ball in his hands after the catch,” Engram said. “Jaleel has really good hands; he’s learning how to continue to refine his route-running.”
Even given their solid start, the rookies will have an uphill battle to see many offensive snaps this fall. The three veteran additions are slated to start and play very big roles and third-year wide receiver Chris Moore was one of the biggest standouts this offseason.
Ever confident, Lasley smiled and said “never say never” when it comes to whether he will become a starter at some point this season. But for now, he’s focused on improving every day and learning from the veterans ahead of him.
“For me, it’s pretty surreal,” Lasley said. “I remember watching Michael Crabtree getting drafted 10 years ago. I watched how upset he was when they took Darrius Heyward-Bey over him. I remember watching [Terrell] Suggs go crazy on TV, yell and sack people. Now I’m in the same locker room as him. It’s a blessing for me.”
Lasley is a player with a lot of personality, and it sometimes led to trouble in college. He reportedly missed the first week of his first training camp for an unspecified team violation, then was suspended for three games during his junior year for another unspecified disciplinary matter.
That, combined with too many drops in college, led to a player with explosive talent and big-time production sliding down draft boards, where the Ravens pounced.
Since he’s arrived in Baltimore, Lasley has been exemplary. He still has that competitive and fun streak, but has handled himself well on and off the field.
“I’ve really tried to take the role of keeping my head down and working. I gain my respect from that. And when people hear me open my mouth, they’re going to smile,” Lasley said.
“I definitely feel like I was misunderstood. I feel like my personality was … I don’t even know the word … I guess, misconstrued. I’m a work in progress just like everybody else, but fans are going to love me.”