Ravens Receivers Look To Stand Tall This Season

The Baltimore Ravens are probably not entirely sure what their group of wide receivers will look like—and more importantly, perform—for quarterback Joe Flacco in 2016 as he returns from a torn ACL.

Steve Smith was supposed to have retired, but chose to come back for one more season after landing on injured reserve. What exactly he might have to offer is unclear. The Ravens also went out and signed former Pittsburgh Steelers draft pick Mike Wallace, who has increasingly been a shadow of his former self.

Behind these two players, however, is a somewhat interesting theme: the majority of their wide receivers on the roster are rather tall, of the 6’2” or taller variety. And that list begins with Baltimore’s first-round draft pick last season, who never got a chance to play, Breshad Perriman.

Also notable was the acquisition of Chris Matthews, originally an undrafted free agent with the Browns, but who had some degree of prominence in the postseason in 2014 with the Seahawks. He was released mid-season and signed by the Ravens, playing in four games for them and registering nine receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Of course, the Ravens still have Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken, a pair of former undrafted free agents now in their fourth seasons, each of whom have at times been contributors for the team. Aiken was a primary starter last season and caught 75 passes for nearly 1000 yards and five touchdowns. Brown had a somewhat limited role in his rookie year but managed 49 receptions for 524 yards and seven touchdowns. His role has since been limited, in part due to injury.

Also notable are two other former undrafted free agents, second-year Daniel Brown and third-year Jeremy Butler, the latter of whom recorded 31 receptions over the course of the last eight games of last season. second-year former sixth-round pick Darren Waller was drafted as a wide receiver, but is working at tight end this offseason.

Waller is 6’6”. Daniel Brown, Marlon Brown, and Chris Matthews are all 6’5”. Aiken, Butler, and Perriman are all 6’2”. That is an awful lot of size in a wide receiver room, with seven wide receivers, including Waller, standing at at least 6’2” or above, some significantly above. And many of them have already played some notable role of varying significance for the Ravens in the past.

Now, it goes without saying that a number of these players will not end up making the 53-man roster, particularly with Smith and Wallace likely already being locks, but it’s possible that they have at least three or four of these additional receivers contributing, with Aiken and Marlon Brown being the two most likely other than Perriman to contribute, the latter also, obviously, a roster lock.

One might have a tendency to wonder if there is any correlation between Flacco’s affinity for the deep ball, the Ravens’ fortune in being able to draw a number of pass interference flags on such passes, and the proliferation of such tall targets. Either way, they will certainly be a good deal taller than the Steelers’ secondary.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Drawing the flags on deep balls. Absolutely. Yet something tells me Wallace will get a lot more long TDs than he has the last 2 years. Either their O line will improve miraculously or they will get away with a lot more holding to give Flaccid time to get a deep ball off. Man, I hope the Steelers can destroy them this year!

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Very dangerous group, that’s why we need to draft the upper echelon dbs in this draft.

  • Ed Smith

    And Alex K wants us to draft 5’9″ guys…

    Hey Alex -I’m one of those 5’9″ guys having played DB against guys 6’3″-6’5″ in school. Won my fair share but reality is you have to be PERFECT every time on your timing and positioning. That’s not reality in the flow of a game. The size differential eventually wins, especially against the higher end of the height scale. And with the speed of these taller receivers these days, the short DB’s are at a real disadvantage. I mean look at what Bryant was doing to our opponents (when he didn’t drop the ball…).

    Steelers – draft some height in the secondary this year, we are going to need it!!

  • RickM

    Yes, their receiving group will be improved. Smith only played 7 games yet caught 46 passes for over a 14-yard average in 2015. That’s amazing at 36. And Perriman’s college resume was impressive. I’m not sure Wallace, who turns 30 this August, can burn guys deep like he thinks he can. But Bridgewater’s lack of arm strength certainly didn’t help him and now he has the best deep ball thrower in the league. It could be a relatively scary group compared to what they fielded last year.

  • cencalsteeler

    I’m sure they’ll try and stretch the field with Wallace, but I’d think he’d be better utilized catching the short passes on the go. Let the big guys go deep and open the middle for Wallace and his wheels. Definitely something to watch for, especially with our recent history of falling victim to explosive plays.

  • NonnaYourbiz

    In Madden, you’d be right. In the real world as the poster said, Flacco’s best trait is throwing a deep jump ball on the sideline that — although usually uncatchable— still draws DPI flags. Remember how infuriating Torrey Smith was against us?

  • RickM

    It’s an interesting thought. I really had seen as a deep threat, but they could mix it up. I, like virtually everyone else on this site, hate the Ravens. But they do go out there and address needs in FA.

  • cencalsteeler

    The NFl should implement the college PI rule just because of Flacco. Like you say, he takes advantage of that rule and gets away with it waaaaay too often. I honestly believe he underthrows his guys on purpose, so his wr slows up and the db runs into him. They’ve turned it into an art over there in Baltimore.

  • RickM

    They definitely get a lot of PI calls that we don’t seem to. That well might be reason.

  • Tom Jackson

    Well let’s see them succeed first of all because ravens wr groups have mostly underpeformed over the years and so I’m just buying it when I see it.

    Steve Smith is coming of an achilles. Thats amazingly hard to come back from, maybe that was even a career ender last year. Comparable to that Kobe one, possibly.
    Then Perriman was more of a work out star last year. Did not have a particular great college career at UCF who play just in the american conference. And tbh he wasn’t necessarily a bad prospect but a hard to project one who was far from a finished product and I don’t think there was one team who would’ve prefered Perriman in the 1st over Coates in the 3rd.
    Kamar Aiken has quitely become a quality WR for them. Not scary though if you ask me. He can get taken out of games.
    And although I was afraid of the Flacco/Wallace combo even before FA it’s still up in the air how successful it can be. First of we don’t know how frequantly they even use him with Perriman in there now and Mike is already 30 years old. He easily could’ve lost a step by now…

  • RickM

    Surprised by your Perriman comments. Michael Irvin who knows receivers said: “The speed this kid has is incredible. He can absolutely fly. Perriman reminds me a lot of Andre Johnson. When you start talking about money downs, no player made more plays on third and fourth downs than Perriman.” As for not having great stats, he had 50 catches averaging over 20 yards a catch for 9 TD’s in his final year. What exactly are you looking for in terms of stats lol? As for the statement “I don’t think there was one team who would’ve prefered Perriman in the 1st over Coates in the 3rd”, that’s just fiction.

    Look, I hope you’re right and he proves not to warrant a first-round pick. But misrepresenting how highly he was thought of seems homerish. I agree completely with your Smith comments though. It’ll be a big challenge for him given the injury and his age.

  • RASTA

    Well if Eli or Shakim do not work out well for the 5th, or even maybe a 6th WR spot this season, then this looks like a great place to scout out and pilfer someone else’s PS player for once (I do however like both of the aforementioned wideouts to be able to step up this season and vie for the last slots on the 53 already)

    Go Steelers!

  • Tom Jackson

    Thats one comment from one guy pre draft. The overall noice about Perriman was different. Especially the hands part, people wasn’t sold on them. Route running was very raw… I mean I don’t wanna talk him into a bad player but he was a risk at the time. Could he turn out to be a good or great player, of course but I have my doubts. Ravens WR development history plus mystic PCL problems aside…

    But tbh his PURE college stats don’t look that impressive. His junior year is good I guess but thats it. He played for UCF in a bad conference. A player with his speed, size and talent level should feast in that enviroment. 50 catches 1044 yards and 9TD isn’t from another planet in the american confernce. Yards would be 5th in 2015 in conference and TDs would tie for 1st with two others. And in 2014 that ranked as 3rd in both categories. Thats not highly impressive for a supposed boarderline 1st RND talent. Without even looking at previous seasons with Bortles as his QB.

    And I don’t know how it’s homerish. I mean thats what was out there last season pre draft about him. And my whole argument is their good situation could look like an average one by october easily. Because there are so many variables. I’m not saying they can’t be good or that they don’t have the ceiling of a top 10 unit in the league and so on but it’s very much up in the air imo. And thats why I posted on your comment that started with ‘Yes, their receiving group will be improved.’ I hate so direct and surefire statements in a fluid situation like that because sports told us endless times that it’s not that easy. Thats all I’m saying.

  • RickM

    “I don’t think there was one team who would’ve prefered Perriman in the 1st over Coates in the 3rd.” That is homerish – which is fine TJ. Mike Mayock, who watches a ton of tape and knows prospects far better than Kiper had Perriman as his 15th best player in the draft. Coates was ranked 71st. And I think every mock draft had Perriman far higher as well.

    I’ll leave it at that as we both hope that you end up being right on this one, and Coates turns out to be a better NFL player than Perriman. Thanks for the chat.

  • Tom Jackson

    I don’t know why it’s homerism. Both were physical freaks who had the same problems coming out with their hands and route running. Coates got it a little worse with that bad ball tracking people got up on about. And both were pretty much seen as boom or bust prospects. The difference is Perrimans junior season was better and he ran a little faster, although that was a pro day time. Other then that Coates had him covered physically, he even jumped way higher. I mean really not much difference between the two but the bigger hype train around Perriman.

    Not that it was a big part of my point but I do think many guys would’ve prefered the risk in RND 3 rather then in RND 1 on a physical specimen WR. And if you give me Mayock at 15, I’ll give you Jeremiah in the early 30s. Not a slouch either.