AFC North Positional Rankings: Wide Receiver
Oct 26, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (89) reacts after catching a pass for a touchdown but called back due to a penalty during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Bengals defeated the Ravens 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
4. Baltimore Ravens
WR1: Steve Smith Sr. (3rd among WR1’s)
WR2: Breshad Perriman (4th among WR2’s)
Other WR’s: Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro
TE1: Crockett Gillmore
TE2: Maxx Williams
It’s scary to think that the longest-tenured Raven listed above is Marlon Brown, who didn’t even score a touchdown for Baltimore in 2014. Baltimore actually has a really depressing group of receivers, highlighted by Steve Smith Sr., who will be playing in the final season of his career in 2015. Although Baltimore’s list of receivers and tight ends is young, it is also inexperienced. Crockett Gillmore is a solid run-blocker with decent hands, while Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams were some of the most highly touted pass-catchers in the 2015 draft class at their positions. But the three players have one combined year of NFL experience.
Jul 30, 2015; Owings Mills, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (89) makes a catch during day one of training camp at Under Armour Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Smith Sr. has been one of the NFL’s best receivers over the past decade, but he is now 36-years-old and the lone experienced receiver on the Ravens roster. Smith had one of the best seasons of his career in 2014, but some of that can be attributed to Torrey Smith’s presence on the opposite side of the field allowing Smith to avoid double coverage and get open. Now, Smith will likely face more double-teams until Breshad Perriman can prove that he is a threat, which could take some time considering Perriman’s drop issues. Knowing the anger and tenacity that Smith plays with, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him put up monster numbers in one final year to go out with a bang; however, with a deteriorating body and limited pass-catchers surrounding him, this season could be difficult for Smith if he can’t defy his age. Because even when Smith was in his early 30’s, he wasn’t as dominant when he didn’t have help on the opposite side of the field.
Breshad Perriman is a 6’3 burner out of UCF who the Ravens selected in the first round of the 2015 draft. He’s only 21 years old and could have a bright career ahead of him; however, he has been dealing with an injury since being drafted and could be falling behind (although his coaches deny it). And to add onto the injury concerns, he was plagued by drops throughout his college career. It’s hard to reiterate how important it is for wide receivers to be able to catch the football; it’s something that many NFL coaches are not prepared to teach, given that they are NFL coaches who are coaching some of the world’s best athletes. It will be interesting to see whether Perriman can overcome his drop issues, but for now, I’m a skeptic.
Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams are two young tight ends with a ton of potential. Gillmore will likely be Baltimore’s starter, as he is the better blocker of the two players. On the other hand, Maxx Williams was the highest rated tight end in the 2015 draft; he’s a solid pass-catcher who can make a big impact in the passing game. However, he is still a rookie tight end, and generally speaking, rookie tight ends do not live up to their expectations. We’ll see whether either of these players can make a significant impact in the running and passing games in the 2015 season, but for now, it’s hard to judge where the Ravens’ tight ends rank amongst the rest of the AFC North.