As I’ve stated before, the lack of a receiver who simply stands taller than defenders limits the ability to simply toss a ball to the end zone for QB Joe Flacco with the comfort to feel “either my receiver is catching the ball or no one is catching the ball.” The team has attempted to keep fade routes in their repertoire, but have not found a target that could consistently bring them down.
The “breakout” nature of Torrey Smith’s rookie campaign in Charm City showed a more complete Baltimore Ravens offense in 2011 than we had seen in years past. Smith truly provided the team a vertical threat on the football field and developed into a player capable of “peeling the top off the defense” as the Ravens had suggested he could after selecting him. Paired with a reliable, physical target in Anquan Boldin, the duo complemented each other quite nicely.
Yet the lack of a major size receiver still stood as a major hole in the team’s attempt to piece together a complete aerial attack. It was a subject I asked former Ravens coach (and WNST.net contributor) Brian Billick about last week.
“I always felt like I want my receiving corps put together like a basketball team. I want that big guy, I want a guy in the slot…that can win in the nickel situation. I want the pure speed guy on the outside. I want a guy that’s got sheer size, maybe doesn’t have the speed…so that everybody has a role” Billick said.
It’s a logical explanation. As Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron learned two years ago when Boldin, former WR Derrick Mason and former TE Todd Heap (nearing the end of his career) all basically used the same places on the field. The team began to separate those players, and have put themselves on the cusp of having a more complete unit.
There are a number of options for the Baltimore Ravens early in the NFL Draft to add a size receiver. 6’4″ target Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech has been one of the more interesting names to follow since the NFL Scouting Combine. Hill’s lack of productivity in Paul Johnson’s triple option offense has been overshadowed by his frame, his 4.36 size and an overwhelmingly impressive 39.5″ vertical leap. Hill would no longer be considered a reach to be picked at number 29 (or perhaps even earlier).
Likely second round receivers Rueben Randle (LSU), Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina) and Juron Criner (Arizona) all measure in at 6’3″ and could help the Ravens by adding size. Rising Appalachian State WR Brian Quick (6’4″) could also add help with a Friday night selection. Even Miami WR Tommy Streeter (6’5″), North Carolina’s Dwight Jones (6’3″) and Texas A&M’s Jeff Fuller (6’4″) could be mid-to-late round options.
I’m not saying “if the Ravens don’t draft Stephen Hill in the first round I’ll be pissed.” I’m not saying I think the Ravens shouldn’t draft other receivers as well.
In fact the ONLY thing I’m saying is that before they face the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium September 10, I hope the Baltimore Ravens have finally addressed this need.
This weekend seems like a good time to do it.