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Baltimore Ravens Depth Causes Changed Draft Outlook at the WR/TE Positions

michael wongCorrespondent IApril 15, 2009

MIAMI - JANUARY 04:  Todd Heap #86 of the Baltimore Ravens catches a first quarter pass in front of Akin Ayodele #51 of the Miami Dolphins during the AFC Wild Card playoff game on January 4, 2009 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

That's Todd Heap.

Perhaps you Raven's fans out there remember him from such years as 2005 and 2006, both years in which Heap caught over 70 passes, leading the team in catches in 2006 while leading the team in touchdowns in 2005.

It seems that even though he hasn't reached his 30th birthday, just about everybody has the WR and TE positions as potential or even probable Ravens' first-round picks in this year's draft.

Why does everybody lose faith in an elite blocking AND receiving tight end like Heap the second his statistics plummet for a year or two? 

Could it be that there has been some controversy at the QB position?

Or maybe it's just because of the offensive-line being in disarray for the last few years, forcing the TE's to stay back and block more often?

Maybe it's both.

How about our wide receivers being too old or too short or too inconsistent? 

Maybe we have a decent, at-worst, average set of WRs that have been injury-plagued for a few years and just need another year under their belts, not including years on injured reserve, to become our receivers of the future.

Well, since the answers aren't just going to magically appear out of thin air, I'm going to just toss them out. 

No thanks necessary, just please, please change your draft boards. Again.

As of this week, both WR Demetrius Williams, yes, the WR that has shown flashes of brilliance since we first drafted him, and TE Quinn Sypniewski, have finally signed their free-agent tenders and, therefore, are pretty much guaranteed to be on our final roster for the 2009 season.

Crickets chirping could definitely be louder than the response I just got.

Here's the deal. Quinn Sypniewski is the silent, blue-collar, hard-working tight end that allows our star, Todd Heap, to go out and catch passes. 

He isn't much of a receiver, I personally just think he doesn't really care enough or have the hands to do so, but I digress. 

The 'other tight end' was completely missing for all of the 2008 season, having never made it out of offseason mini-camps because of torn knee ligaments.

As for Demetrius Williams, our 6'2", rangy receiver that gives us much height and jumping ability, he is finally back in action after receiving surgery for a bone-spur in his Achilles tendon midway through last season.

Just one week prior, Williams showed off his speed and hands by catching a 70-yard bomb from Joe Flacco, frustrating us yet again by giving us just a tiny glimpse of what could be if only he could finally tap into all of that immense potential.

With both of these key depth players signed and back in conditioning and training-camps, I think that as long as they continue to progress and don't suffer any further injuries or set-backs, they should set us up well prior to taking any picks in the upcoming draft.

We still might take a WR or TE on day one, the 'pick the best player available' method of drafting might keep Ozzie from straying from the course most Raven's fans have predicted.

Not me.

I'll never forget those long hard seasons, year after year with little to no offense to watch every Sunday. 

During those games, as is natural pre-snap, I watched the line-formation for about 5-6 seconds, then I watched Kyle Boller shiver in his boots, and finally, I watched the play unfold out into the open field.

I'm sorry to say I paid little attention to Quinn Sypniewski or any other blocking or chipping tight end. 

I was busy watching Todd Heap and his marvelous hands, making the most out of each and every play. 

For that I thank you, and you shall not be forgotten by this Ravens' fan.

To Demetrius Williams, we really need you to be who you can be if you really want too. 

Stay focused, do your off-season training and conditioning, and if everything falls into place, you will make many more plays like the 70-yarder against Oakland.

With Joe Flacco's maturation and natural progression, he will be looking deep down the field much more than our past QBs, who shall remain nameless.

Whatever happens in the draft, I will trust in Ozzie's unyielding wisdom and guidance.

But don't forget this. We've already got a Star-TE and a tall, rangy receiver on the roster.

-M

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