What does Ravens need with a wide receiver? It depends on what they already have.

Eric Decosta couldn’t resist the joke after the deal that brought the Ravens wide receiver group back into its very familiar off-season zone.Ravens General Manager Just traded Marquis “Hollywood” Brown For the first round pick that became Center Tyler Linderbaum. He was asked: Did the deal thin the team with wide receivers?

“I was thinking about it, and I just missed all the questions this year,” Decosta said last month. “You wanted to go back to the old days, right?”

For the next three weeks, Ravens hasn’t done anything with wide receivers, but has signed a handful of undrafted free agents to promote their young group. Decosta said the team is expecting a “big big jump this year” from the first round pick of 2021, Rashod Bateman. He called Devin Dubanay a “great young player.” James Prosh II and Tyran Wallace were praised. The team already had a reminder that they had an All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews.

However, wait for immediate help. Former Cleveland Browns’ outstanding Jarvis Laundry, a free agent who had a relationship with Ravens, signed a one-year contract with New Orleans Saints on Friday worth up to $ 6 million. Some of the remaining impact wide receivers have warning signals: prolonged injuries, durability concerns, reduced production. With limited salary cap space, Ravens continues to look for the right player at the right price.

“We like receivers, we do,” Decosta said after the draft. “We’ve seen growth. We’ve seen our guys mature and grow …. Add players to the mix. We’re doing that now, and we’ve seen veteran players too. I’m going. The reason I wanted to make a hole in the team wasn’t really by design. I don’t see it that way, but in this business you pivot, dodge, and Weave — You will always really chase your needs. All teams in the league will tell you you are chasing your needs. “

And what do Ravens need? It depends on what they think they have, and what they think they can still get.

Perform blocking

In early February, Decosta revealed the identity of the crime long before Ravens signed Morgan Moses on the right tackle and traded off Brown to draft Linderbaum. “We are a running team,” he said at a press conference at the end of the season.

Nothing seems to have changed there. Ravens led and carried the NFL as an aggressive coordinator for Greg Roman’s first two years. Last season, he finished in 3rd place, weakened by poor defense and quarterback Lamar Jackson’s injury. The team’s first philosophy pervades its recipients. Coaches appreciate the powerful run blockers not only in trenches but also in large areas.

“Everyone wants to win, but most want to win on their own terms,” ​​Harbaugh said, near the end of Ravens’ groundbreaking 2018 season, top wide receiver John Brown. , Willie Snead IV, said there was a shortage of targets for Michael Crabtree. “These guys are cleaning up their words a bit — maybe a lot. They’re blocking. Hey, we’re cutting off the backside defensive end with a wide receiver, and those People are doing it. It’s a difficult duty, but they accepted it. “

In 2022, that could be an obligation for that position. Ravens’ investment in tight end and fullback — veteran Nick Boyle, Patrick Ricard, Andrews, rookie Charlie Kolar and Isaiah are all likely to make a roster of 53 — two more in Rome Should give you the flexibility to use-and next season we’ll be grouping three tight ends. This means less snaps on Ravens wide receivers.

Improved execution blocking will help their cause. He offered very little in the run game about everything Brown brought to the Ravens pass offense. According to a review of Ravens’ 38 designed runs that lasted more than 20 yards in the last two seasons, Brown was involved as a playside blocker for only a handful of times. Far from the action. But when, for example, Ravens turned around, it was usually on the side of Miles Boykin. And in the slot where Brown also spent time, Duberney was much more effective at blocking the second level defenders.

These types of restrictions and trends can make crime more predictable. With Boykin released and Sammy Watkins not resigning, Ravens will have to get along with a less impressive wide-out group. The 6-foot-1 Bateman is the tallest contributor to the team, but last year had the worst run-blocking grade of any Ravens wide receiver. According to Pro Football Focus.. Both Duvernay and Proche are below the backup level. Wallace did the best in the NFL, but due to the small sample size, he had only 26 run-blocking snaps, nine less than Prosh.

Free agent class receivers do not have reliable run blockers due to the lack of versatile Landry. Former Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans wide-out Julio Jones has a solid track record and a good size of 6-3, but injuries have limited him to 19 games in the last two years.

Downfield ability

Ravens lost more than the most productive wide receivers when they traded off Brown. They also lost the only proven deep threat in that position.

According to Sports Info Solutions, last season’s NFL wide receivers targeted only seven passes at least 20 yards more than Brown (28). In 2020 (25 targets), there were only five. Brown has led Ravens in 464 receive yards over the last two years, even if his overall efficiency (13 catches on 53 targets) is lacking.

At Andrews, Ravens still has the best field stretch tight end in the league. Last season, I targeted 19 times with at least 20 yards of downfield throws. This is by far the most tight end of the NFL. He caught eight times at 246 yards. But the drop-off after Brown and Andrews is staggering.

Fast (4.43 seconds 40 yards dash) Bateman made four catches with eight deep throats at 131 yards during the rookie season when his injuries were shortened. Duvernay and Proche each recorded at least one 20-yard catch in the first two seasons in Baltimore, with Duvernay seeing four such targets and Proche seeing two. Wallace did not take a downfield shot in 2021.

Ravens’ play-action games give Jackson a great opportunity to play, but he needs another home run threat. As a sophomore in Minnesota, Bateman may have finished eighth in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 20.3 yards per catch. It may be Wallace who enjoyed the jump ball opportunity in Oklahoma. It could be Duvernay, already one of the NFL’s best returners and one of the fastest players on the team. It could be a combination of all three of Prosh and Rookie tight end.

It may be Will Fuller V. The first round of 2016 picks averaged 16.6 yards per catch in 2020 when they finished at 879 yards in just 11 Houston Texans games. But injuries are still a concern. Speedster broke his thumb in the fourth week of last season and finished the year at the Miami Dolphins with just four catches at 26 yards. In February he Share on his Instagram A photo of a bandaged left hand with a clear splint on the left middle finger. “Dungfingerman” and Fuller wrote in the caption of the deleted photo.


Ravens is not strict about the role of wide receiver. Wide outs are expected to move from spot to spot. Flexibility to attack is just as important as defense. After Ravens drafted Duberney and Prosh in 2020, Harbaugh said, “I don’t really think we have” slot “players or” outside “players.”

It’s not saying that their receiver usage is random. All formations and grouping of personnel have that purpose. But now that Brown is no longer visible, Ravens needs to organize the rotation of the receiver not only inside but also outside.

According to SIS, Brown followed only Andrews on the route he ran from the slot last year (332). Duvernay was second (216), followed by Proche (141), Bateman (112) and Wallace (31). Brown shortened his time as an external receiver (263 routes run), but still only Bateman (273) was lined up there more often. Of the Ravens return receivers, only Duvernay (121) won regular snaps outside.

The most productive outside alignment in Minnesota, Bateman could emerge as a top option for Ravens. But who is his running mate on the other side? Duvernay became more efficient when lined up in slots, but gaining his experience could grow into an external role. Wallace, who lined up almost exclusively as an external receiver in Oklahoma, saw more time internally in training camps and games. And the smallest Prosh of Ravens’ top wide receivers is almost exclusively lined up in slots.

It’s not a question that asks for an answer.Ravens used at least 3 wide outs In more than half of last season’s playsHowever, they do not line up with the two wide receivers that are out of the numbers in every play. They can bend Andrews and run back with obvious deliveries. They may be more dependent on the formation of bundles that reduce receiver splitting.

Or you could get another starting level wide receiver anyway. They have four months to understand these things.


What does Ravens need with a wide receiver? It depends on what they already have.

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