Should Ravens Be Content With Young Wide Receivers?
Wide receiver was low on the Ravens' priority list heading into the draft, but then Marquise Brown was traded, which created a hole at the position. Or did it?
Losing a playmaking, 1,000-yard wide receiver can't be easily dismissed, but General Manager Eric DeCosta reiterated after the draft that he has confidence in the team’s young wide receivers.
While the Ravens could add a veteran to the group, Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and Tylan Wallace all have an opportunity to make an impact. Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed believes they are up to the challenge.
"Now that the offensive line has been fortified and has better depth in case of injuries, expect the passing attack to be more fruitful and explosive going forward, which means more opportunities for the likes of Bateman, Duvernay, Proche, Wallace, and potentially an undrafted free agent to shine," Reed wrote. "And silence their doubters and skeptics."
Any optimism regarding the Ravens' wide receiving corps begins with Bateman. The 2021 first-round pick showed flashes of his vast potential in an injury-shortened season and is expected to take a big leap in 2022.
"Many pundits already believed that Bateman was poised to make a significant leap from year one to year two, but following the trade of Brown to [Arizona], expectations are even higher," Reed wrote. "He has been spending a lot of the time in the offseason catching passes from Lamar Jackson and is on track not only for a breakout season, but to ascend to 'true No. 1' receiver status."
Duvernay, who made the All-Pro team as a return specialist last year, is a speedster who has the ability to take the top off of the defense in addition to being a threat in the running game.
Proche made several clutch catches last season, and DeCosta said he is "uncoverable" at times. Wallace, who made his mark on special teams last season, was considered a steal when the Ravens got him in the fourth round last year.
While some pundits have been critical of the Ravens for not landing a top-tier wide receiver this offseason, a case can be made that the team's run-oriented offense and the presence of pass-catching, All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews make it less of a necessity than it is for most teams.
Therefore, with the wide receiver market exploding this offseason, it doesn't make sense for the Ravens to invest huge money in the position. There's also a perception the Ravens' offensive philosophy doesn't appeal to established wide receivers.
"Receivers are not going to be knocking on the door to go, 'Oh, let me come there and play and watch Lamar Jackson run around. Yes, awesome,'" NBC Sports’ Chris Simms said on Glenn Clark Radio last week. "They're going to probably be on a team that's going to have to take a different approach if they're going to continue to play this style of football.
"Maybe they realize there's an issue with the receiver thing — the offense, Lamar Jackson, receivers not wanting to go there. Maybe that's why they drafted two unbelievable pass-catching tight ends (Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely) … later in the draft. Maybe that's the route they're going to go."
Simms: Ravens and Jarvis Landry Are a Match Made in Heaven
The veteran free agent wide receiver who makes the most sense for the Ravens to sign, in terms of both fit and affordability, is Jarvis Landry, Simms said on "Pro Football Talk." As noted in yesterday’s Late for Work, the Ravens are reportedly interested in Landry.
"It's a match made in heaven," Simms said. "He fits the mold of the Ravens. He is tough. He will do the dirty work. He's a great run-blocker. He adds attitude to that football team. This makes too much sense."
Simms' colleague, Mike Florio, agreed.
"I think this is perfect for the Ravens," Florio said. "He's got the mindset that has epitomized the Ravens' overall approach to football: rough and tumble, physical style."
Pundit Says Lamar Jackson Is Easy to Root For
With his electric playmaking skills and affable personality, Jackson is an easy player to root for —unless he's playing against your team, of course.
NFL.com columnist Jim Trotter named one person on every team to root for, and Jackson was his choice for the Ravens.
"I don't hide the fact that I am a fan of Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson—- the player and the person," Trotter wrote. "The poise and grace he showed during his draft night back in April of 2018, when he plummeted to the bottom of the first round, remains an indelible memory. The camera kept focusing on him and his mom in an increasingly empty green room, the two of them leaning against each other, shoulder to shoulder, while seated, heads down, tension rising. It was debatable who was more uncomfortable in that moment: Jackson or the national television audience. Once the fall was over, once Baltimore traded back into the first round and selected him with the final pick of Day 1, Jackson chose to look ahead, not back.
"The next morning, after Jackson arrived at the Ravens facility, I asked him to choose one or the other: A Super Bowl win or a Hall of Fame jacket. He didn't hesitate. 'If you're winning Super Bowls, things like gold jackets can follow,' he said. For someone to have that much wisdom, poise and humility at such a young age struck me. Truth is, it has never left me. It's why I have no problem admitting my bias when it comes to Lamar."
Ravens Move on From Ty'Son Williams
With the signing of veteran running back Mike Davis to a one-year deal yesterday, the Ravens withdrew the exclusive rights tender of running back Ty'Son Williams in a corresponding move.
Williams, who signed with Baltimore as an undrafted free agent in 2020, got an opportunity to start last season after J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill went down with season-ending injuries in the preseason.
In his first two games, Williams ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries and caught five passes for 45 yards, but he was used sparingly after that.
As for Davis, the 29-year-old provides veteran depth as well as insurance in case Dobbins and Edwards aren't ready at the start of the season.
- All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humprey was the only Raven on NFL.com’s All-Paid Team.