Baltimore Ravens: Addition of Lee Evans Directly Hits Pittsburgh Steelers
Ozzie Newsome—the Ravens general manager—obviously understood that the team needed another receiver and, even with the addition of Evans, could probably add another before the season's start.
Whether he understood it or not, he picked up the perfect receiver to gain a head-to-head advantage over their biggest rivals in the AFC North.
Lee Evans is an outstanding receiver that has been hindered by the poor offense in Buffalo for the most part in his career. What Evans excels at is getting deep.
He has a career average of 15.7 yards per catch but because of where he has been playing, his statistics should not be taken at face value. It's true that at 30 years of age he does not have the pace that he once had but he still averaged 15.6 yards per reception last season.
Last year Steve Johnson emerged in Buffalo but opposing defenses definitely prioritized shutting down Evans first and foremost. Evans has been treated that way throughout his career and should excel now that he is the second receiver in Baltimore.
How this directly affects the Pittsburgh Steelers is simple.
Evans' speed is such that the Steelers will be forced to put Ike Taylor on him when the two teams meet. Taylor won't have any problem staying with Evans; entering the league Taylor reportedly ran a 4.26-second 40 time, but was not invited to the NFL combine so that remains unofficial.
However the effect of Taylor having to cover Evans and not Boldin means it will match one of the Ravens' biggest strengths against the Steelers biggest weakness.
Bryant McFadden will likely be the starting corner in Pittsburgh next year. McFadden when healthy is a lot better than his reputation, his greatest problem is that he is never fully healthy.
However Boldin is the type of receiver McFadden will always struggle with because of the difference between them physically. Boldin is built like a running back and knows how to use his upper body strength to gain position or run over defensive backs with the ball in his hands.
McFadden is roughly 6'0" and 190 pounds while Boldin is 6'1" and roughly 223 pounds.
The fact that Taylor more often than not shadowed Boldin last year means that the best way to look at this matchup dates all the way back to Super Bowl XXXXIII.
Boldin then was the second choice receiver for the Arizona Cardinals while McFadden and William Gay were rotating as the Steelers' second choice cornerback.
In that game Boldin had eight receptions for 84 yards. However for a few reasons, the Cardinals didn't get as much as they could have out of him that day.
Was a fourth round pick a fair price for Lee Evans?
The Steelers had had two weeks to prepare for the game and with the high-powered Cardinals offense, they radically changed their defense to specifically shut down the passing game. That worked brilliantly in the first half before Cardinals came out firing in the second.
Anquan Boldin had been injured during the playoffs and was by no means anywhere near 100 percent healthy for the game. The Cardinals did not need to force the ball to Boldin as they had the mercurial Larry Fitzgerald and upstart Steve Breaston also available.
This season Boldin figures to be healthy and will see the ball thrown his way a lot. Currently, the Ravens have very little to offer at receiver. While Tandon Doss and Torrey Smith will be expected to contribute, neither made a great impression against second teamers in Philadelphia last night.
That was largely the offensive line's fault for not giving Tyrod Taylor a chance to throw but there were very few sparks or big impressions made by either player.
The Ravens definitely still have a ways to go before they can figure to win the AFC North but for now at least they have made one move that will help them reach that goal.
Evans is a fine addition that will help them in every football game that they play. The fact that he gives them a target to hurt the Steelers' defense is either a lucky addition or a brilliantly thought out move.
I don't doubt that it is the latter considering it was Newsome's effort.
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