The 2017 NFL draft is fast approaching and the Baltimore Ravens are busy planning for their first pick. Will they trade up or down? Will they pick a receiver? pass rusher? right guard? Only time will tell.
Fans like myself want a top wide receiver. Steve Smith, Sr. , who retired last season was a powerhouse on the field. He had excellent hands, a long reach and he could separate from defensive backs to catch a difficult pass. He ended the season with 70 receptions for 799 yards and five touchdowns. He is gone and we as fans are needy for a new “star.”
Breshad Perriman has been slow starting. This first-rounder came out the gate in 2015 ready to earn his title when he suffered a knee injury that knocked out his entire rookie season. Last season could be considered his rookie season since it was the first time he played in the NFL. He ended the season with 33 receptions for 499 yards and three touchdowns. Not bad considering he was sharing the spot light with Steve Smith and Mike Wallace. He also had five dropped passes. So there is work to be done on his end.
Wallace, the former Vikings receiver is the current wide-out. A real deep-threat, Wallace gets his hands on the ball and he is gone! He is a powerful athlete that has excellent separation skills. He ends last season with 72 receptions for 1,017 yards with four touchdowns.
Michael Campanaro is back from injury and ready to do his part. He has shown some flashes of speed and good ball handling skills. If he can stay healthy, he could become one of Flacco’s regular targets.
Keenan Reynolds is the Navy standout that was signed in Round 6 of the 2016 draft. He is making the transition from quarterback to wide receiver. The Ravens made a business move by releasing him, resigning him to the practice squad, resigning him to the active roster for the last game of the season and making him inactive for that game. In doing that, the team “own his rights as an exclusive-rights free agent and another team can’t sign him to a reserve-future deal after the season”, per article by ESPN staff writer Jamison Hensley.
There are a few other receivers in the mix like Chris Moore, Kenny Bell, Vince Mayle, Chris Matthews all waiting to prove themselves and become starters.
Meanwhile, there are a few names that come up when someone mentions the top wide receiver prospects in the draft: Corey Davis, John Ross, Taywan Taylor and veteran Anquan Boldin.
Davis, out of Western Michigan, is an all-around athlete. He is fast, has good route running skills and can separate from defenders after the catch. Sounds a lot like Steve Smith, Sr. This senior broke the NCAA record for all-time receiving yards (5,205) and 51 touchdowns. He is one to watch.
This powerhouse out of Washington is another speed demon that has good route running ability. His name rang out early since the NFL Combine when he ran a 40-yard dash in 4.22 seconds. A very athletic, versatile player who started three games as cornerback in 2014. He had a knee injury in 2015 and missed the entire season but he came back in 2016 strong as ever. He recorded 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is considered an all-around receiving threat. His size, 5’11”, 188 pounds, might be an easy pick for a larger cornerback. A sizable DB can easily knock him off his route, if they can catch him.
Taylor, out of Western Kentucky, finished third in the nation in receiving yards (1,730) in 2016. A skilled route runner with speed who would be a danger after the catch. A smaller receiver only at around 190 pounds, he might have difficulty with a larger, more physical cornerback but his speed should keep him clear. He has a career 253 receptions for 4,234 yards and 41 touchdowns.
Former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin is now a free agent this offseason after spending one season with the Detroit Lions. He was originally traded by the Ravens to the San Francisco 49ers in 2013. During the three seasons with the Ravens, he recorded over 800 receiving yards per season. He finished last season recording 67 receptions for 584 yards and eight touchdowns. Boldin has proven himself over the years, so it should be an easy decision, although he is getting along in years, he still has the juice.
The Ravens need a star receiver and fast. This team needs to be able to put touchdowns on the board. Ross, Davis or Taylor would be a welcoming addition. I am expecting Perriman to make up for lost time and play up to his ranking. If not, he would be considered a bust in the eyes of the fans. Coach Harbaugh would not be happy either. He has stated that Perriman must be a difference-maker this season.
“He has to be out there making a difference for us. Period. End of story.”
Most people think that it would take 1-2 years for a rookie to play at the NFL level, but that is not always the case. There is always a question as to whether or not these players will be ready to start Week 1. Coming from the college level, there will be a big adjustment period, but it can be done. Just ask Odell Beckham, Jr., Amari Cooper and Julio Jones.