The Ravens' roster had a lot of turnover from the team that went 11-5 last season and came within four minutes of going to the Super Bowl. They lost one of their middle linebackers, their starting safety, starting center and Hall of Fame kicker, but they have taken steps to address all of these.
I am a huge Derrick Mason fan and believe that the Ravens would not of made it to the AFC Championship without him, but I still think wide receiver position is still the biggest hole on their roster.
Mason is the only receiver on the roster that has shown any consistency and he is good for about 80 catches and 1000+ yards every season, but you can’t say the same about the rest of the receiving corps.
The Ravens addressed their lack of playmakers at the wide out position, indirectly by drafting a right tackle and hoping better protection of Joe Flacco will help the receivers get open. Anyone who looked at replays from the AFC Championship game against the Steelers last year saw that Flacco was given time to throw, but the receivers could not get open for him thus leading to a sack or throw away.
Derrick Mason is an elite position receiver who lacks the speed to stretch the field. The Ravens had a chance to bring in Anquan Boldin, who is in the same mold as Mason, but is better then any receiver on their roster. Boldin still wants out of Arizona, but it is unlikely the Ravens will make a legitimate offer for him.
Mark Clayton had 500 yards in the second half of the season last year, but has yet to show that consistency his entire career. This will be a make-or-break year for Clayton and the year he will be labeled a "bust" if he doesn’t produce.
Demetrius Williams had a stellar rookie campaign, and is the Ravens tallest receiver that is their "big play" guy. Williams missed a lot of the season last year with a heel injury and I believe he is the "X-factor" for this offense.
If Williams reverts back to the form he had in his rookie year and Clayton can crack the 1000-yard mark then the Ravens will look like geniuses for not drafting a receiver or bringing one in from free agency. If neither pans out they will once again struggle offensively and it will be hard for Joe Flacco to fulfill his potential.
The hole at wide receiver is a glaring weakness and in a way, affects the run game as well.
The Steelers are one of the best run defenses in football, so they will be able to stop the Ravens' running game without having to put the eighth man in the box. They can bring pressure on Flacco and cover the receivers without bringing pressure.
The kind of receiver that can take a two-yard screen pass from the 20-yard line, 80 yards to the house would put this offense over the top and would keep opposing defenses on their heels. Not every defense is a good as the Steelers, but the Ravens still face some formidable defenses this year.
San Diego, New England, Chicago and Minnesota are all defenses that can stop and bring pressure and will put eight men in the box all day and make the Ravens pass the ball and a big play receiver would not allow them to do this.
Despite all of his success last season, Joe Flacco will not make any strides if he has receivers that can’t get open.
Every team that the Ravens play has a gameplan that says if they stop the run, they will win. I believe the defense will take a small step back this year and the offense would need to compensate by taking a step forward which I am not sure they can do.
Michael Oher will help the offense, but he cannot catch passes unless he is the tackle eligible in the jumbo package, which is not the most successful offense for the Ravens.
Receiver is still the glaring hole outside of Derrick Mason. Clayton, Williams, Washington and Smith need to produce or this team will not make a return trip back to the playoffs