Positional Review Preview : Wide Receiver

dwill

It seems like just the right time to examine the most talked about position for the Ravens organization. If Flacco is the quarterback then who is going to catch all of his passes?

2008 Review:

The Ravens passing game continued development as they finally found a franchise quarterback and hoped to achieve more balance in Cam Cameron’s offense.  Even so the results still show a need for improvement on all fronts. Baltimore finished in the bottom third in the league in yards per game (192.8) and the bottom third in receptions (16 per game). This was a product of Flacco’s youth leading the offense and his receiving corps.

Derrick Mason continued to be the de-facto number one receiver turning in another stellar season. He notched his second 1,000 yard season in a row to go with 80 catches and 5 touchdowns. He also showed incredible toughness and played through shoulder pain most of the season. Watching him nab a TD against the Cowboys with basically one arm was a sight to behold and a highlight of his campaign.

Mark Clayton’s production was about the same as the rookie season. He gained 695 yds. which was a slight improvement over last year and caught 3 touchdowns. He showed a glimpse of athleticism with most notably a one handed grab against the Bengals. Cameron tried to utilize him in different ways even getting in out in space to rush the ball on reverses and sweeps.

Demetrius Williams was plagued all season by injuries to his ankle. In the 7 games he appeared in he had 13 catches for 180 yards (25.7 avg.) and caught 1 long TD against Oakland.

Yamon Figurs attempted to use his world class speed in the slot but came away with only one catch and didn’t appear to have the hands or route skills to help the team more.

Fourth round draft choice, Marcus Smith made contributions on special teams but was unable to get in the stat book and did not have a reception. Not a good sign when both of your quarterbacks have more catches than you.

2009 Preview:

Now with Joe Flacco in place as the franchise quarterback the need for a young #1 type receiver seems more important than ever.The rumor mill has been circulating since the week after the loss to Pittsburgh that the Ravens may look at another’s teams disgruntled player (Anquan Boldin and now Brandon Marshall) to fill that void. Even though publicly the brass has said they are happy with the current roster at the position.

As the training camp gets closer the team may be forced to add a player not just for improved production but for health reasons.

Derrick Mason completed off-season shoulder surgery and it isn’t clear if he will be ready for camp or the home opener against Kansas City. That is depending on who you ask, as the coaches appear hopeful Mason has been a bit more close mouthed. Mason’s contract is also up at the end of the season so and he seems to have quieted a bit about his strong desire for a new deal.

Is Mark Clayton better than a 40 reception player? Out of four seasons his high catch total was 67 in 2006 but his other three seasons he averaged in the 40 range. He’s a player that seems to have beat the injury bug from early in his career but he must step up his production and be a factor in every game. Again he’s another player who’s contract is up at the year.

The cloud of inconsistency continues to hang over Demetrius Williams. He says he is fully healed from ankle surgery but that his recovery is a “work in progress”. Coach Cameron said recently that the team may have to “think about life without him”. If he can stay on the field he has a wealth of skills to be a real threat.

Marcus Smith must step up and use the knowledge of his rookie season to make an impression on the field. I’m not sold on if he will be able to do much.

Kelley Washington was signed to provide depth but with the current situation would be the starting #2 receiver next to Clayton if the season began today. He’s a decent pro but not much of a wide out.

So to me the conclusion is clear, The Ravens MUST make a move to solidify the wide receiver position.They will need to revisit the Boldin scenario or look at Brandon Marshall or explore some other yet to be forseen possibility. Any decision has it’s issues.

The question is how much will one of those players cost (picks) and what type of money will they be due (a hefty sum) and does Baltimore have it? The last part I’m not sure about but they can’t have much room left on the Cap to take on another big contract.

In order for the Ravens to put together back to back playoff runs for the first time since 2000-2001 they must continue to develop the passing game and to do that you need to upgrade the roster. I understoon drafting Michael Oher because it addressed another need but to stand pat another season with the wideouts would seem foolish.

This is the final piece to the puzzle and it would be a shame to a see an emerging quarterback stifled by a lack of weapons and another potential trip for a Lombardi trophy derailed.

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One Response to “Positional Review Preview : Wide Receiver”

  1. Chad says:

    Brandon Marshall and D. Mason would be a great look this coming season…..

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