Baltimore Ravens Team & Depth Chart Analysis: Wide Receiver
This is the first in a series of articles regarding the roster and depth chart of the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. In this article series, I'm going to share some research, opinion and predictions about what the Ravens team will look like next season.
Every year, there are always changes on a team's roster—some more than others. Baltimore had a solid draft this year. They will look for some of their rookies to compete for starting spots and others to provide depth and quality backup positions.
This first article will address the wide receiver position: what receivers the Ravens have on their roster, how the spots could be ordered and the quality of this corps in 2011.
WR Anquan Boldin, No. 81
Boldin was signed by the Ravens in 2010 to a three-year contract. He had 64 receptions for 837 yards and seven TDs, quickly establishing himself as Joe Flacco's No. 1 receiver. Although his catches-per-game tally dropped off as the season continued, Boldin was still a formidable force.
Boldin's strength is in slant routes, short routes and out routes. He has sure hands, and is a possession receiver with a big body who can break tackles and rack up yards and first downs after the catch. A big presence on the team and a leader among the Raven's offense in 2010, Boldin looks to have the No. 1 receiver spot locked up and should be a quality contributor in 2011.
WR Derrick Mason, No. 85
Derrick Mason has been a sure-handed veteran on the Ravens team since 2005. Although he has lost a step and will likely retire in the next few seasons, the old hand has been a leadership presence and a dynamic offensive weapon.
Mason, like Boldin, is more of a possession receiver who excels at route-running and has great hands. Although Mason is not a real big play or vertical threat, he is still a quality No. 2 receiver and looks to maintain that slot in 2011.
WR Torrey Smith, No. 82
Torrey Smith was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. Smith is a big, deep-threat speedster out of Maryland. At the NFL combine, Smith ran a 4.43 40-yard dash—the fourth-fastest time among wide receiver—and clocks in at 6'1, 204 lbs.
Last year, the Ravens wanted to add a deep threat with Donte Stallworth, but the free-agency acquisition didn't pan out. Baltimore now hopes that Torrey Smith can fill that void. Although there are concerns about his catching technique and route-running, he is fairly sure-handed. His greatest plus is his straight-line speed and agility, making him a deep seam threat and an opportunity for a big play once he gets the ball in his hands.
It all depends on how he shows up in training camp and preseason, but Torrey Smith looks like he will be the Ravens' No. 3 receiver.
WR/KR David Reed, No. 16
David Reed is a second-year receiver and kick returner for the Ravens, drafted out of Utah. Reed (6', 191 lbs.) is speedy and has good ability to break tackles as well as decent hands. He led the NFL in kick return average with 29.3 yards per return.
Although Reed's offensive contribution was only one end-around for 15 yards, he displayed good talent in the preseason and had flashes of great potential as a kick returner. He is more of a possession receiver, but should be worked more into the offense next year as an eventual replacement to Derrick Mason.
Reed's talent as a receiver has not been showcased so far, but as he develops into a weapon for the offense he could quickly move up from the No. 4 receiver position.
Tandon Doss, No. 89; James Hardy, No. 13; Marcus Smith, No. 11; Justin Harper, No. 87
The battle in training camp for the No. 5 receiver spot looks to be between James Hardy, a 2008 second-rounder released by the Buffalo Bills, and Tandon Doss, a fourth-round pick from Indiana University.
Hardy has some experience in the league, but was a disappointment for the Bills. He was not the right pick for their offense and was injured. He appears to be a possession-type receiver and a red-zone threat with slightly suspect catching ability.
Tandon Doss was picked as a result of Ravens QB Joe Flacco, who was given a list of receivers to evaluate and picked Doss. Doss is big at 6'1, 201 lbs., has good hands and is versatile. He has average speed and is another possession receiver.
Marcus Smith has been a special teams contributor for the Ravens, as he was buried in the depth chart by the talent in front of him. He was drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round in 2008, a big receiver at 225 lbs and 6'1 lbs. If Baltimore keeps six receivers on the active roster, Marcus Smith could likely end up at No. 6.
Justin Harper was a practice-squad player for the Ravens in 2010, another 2008 draft pick. Unless he can improve his catching ability, Harper looks to remain on the practice squad to be held in reserve in case of injuries to the receiving corps.