Freshly shorn and removed of his dreads, Ravens #1 wide-out Torrey Smith is probably relieved to hear the Ravens are not shopping for a premier wide receiver at this time.
Ravens brass isn’t “planning to pursue” a veteran wide receiver, including Brandon Lloyd and Austin Collie, according to The Baltimore sun.
The report notes the Ravens could change course and decide to explore the market later, but right now the focus is on evaluating the current receivers on the roster and giving them an opportunity to prove themselves.
“The Ravens' hope is that at least a few of their receivers grow into expanded roles after the offseason trade of three-time Pro Bowler Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers,” wrote Aaron Wilson.
Nobody's saying it out loud, of course, but I think the real plan is to expand the use of tight ends and H-Backs in the evolving Ravens offense.
I checked in with the lovely Sarah Ellison at Ravens.com for her take on the receivers situation going into late June.
"The receiver market is thin at this point, with Lloyd and Collie leading the group. It also includes Randy Moss, Chaz Schilens, Chad Johnson, Laurent Robinson, Deion Branch, Jabar Gaffney and Mike Sims-Walker. This may be an indication that the young receivers are accomplishing their offseason objective."
“Our goal is for Ozzie to feel comfortable enough with us that he doesn’t have to go bring in a veteran,” Smith said last month. “It’s on us to go out there and make it happen, and for him to trust us and believe in us.”
Without the ability to see the receivers in action, some fans feel anxious about replacing Boldin with an unproven receiver. By all accounts, however, the young players have had a solid offseason even though no one stood out as the clear frontrunner.
Overall, the group is characterized by its better-than-average speed. Jacoby Jones is the current No. 2, but will be pushed especially by Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson.
Doss and Thompson both had impressive minicamps, but are different players. Doss has good hands and route-running ability but generally doesn’t “wow.” He seemed to run with the first team the most during camp and appeared to get the most catches. Thompson is the fastest and is a finisher. He is no slouch at running routes either. He’s had the most media buzz during the workouts.
You also can’t forget about David Reed, who makes plays after the catch but needs to stay healthy, and LaQuan Williams, who also adds value on special teams.
I appreciate Ellison's faith in the current roster at WR. Something seems to be missing, though, besides Anquan's big plays. Big possession receiver, big downfield blocker...the two things that made Boldin indispensable.
I still think the Ravens are looking at the fullback/H-Back hybrid as an answer...along with a bigger role for their two and three-tight end sets.