If you were to type the phrase “Ravens WR rumors” in your favorite search engine, you’ll be left with enough hits to qualify the list for mandatory summer reading. That’s because most outlets have addressed the Ravens biggest remaining need–since the team traded Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Arizona Cardinals during this year’s draft–as finding another veteran receiver who can help stretch the field for Lamar Jackson.
First, it was Deebo Samuel, then DK Metcalf, Julio Jones, Terry McLaurin, Darius Slayton, Scotty Miller (!), Will Fuller, T.Y. Hilton and, most recently, Robbie Anderson. The entire exercise has been maddening.
That’s not to suggest that the Baltimore Ravens haven’t probably had a few of these discussions internally, if General Manager Eric DeCosta has done his due diligence. But the shrewd GM has long espoused the “right fit, right price” mantra. Too many of the suggested names just don’t check that all-important box.
At this point in time, the Ravens WR room is anchored by second-year breakout candidate Rashod Bateman, 3-year vets Devin Duvernay and James Proche, and another sophomore coming off mostly special teams’ duties last season in Tylan Wallace.
Will that be enough for Lamar Jackson to lead a prolific offense? In a word, yes.
First of all, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman’s offense is driven by the run game. With the expected healthy returns of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards–along with the addition of free agent Mike Davis–the Ravens have more than enough horsepower on the ground to keep opposing defenses honest.
When Jackson does need to drop back and sling it, All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews will generally be his first read. But the Ravens also drafted a pair of young tight ends to complement the Roman’s scheme, adding Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar and Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely in the fourth round. Likely has already flashed in minicamp.
So why do I suggest the current receivers are enough? Take a look at Lamar’s two best seasons as a professional. In his 2019 MVP season, he threw for 36 touchdowns (just 7 of them were to Hollywood Brown, or 19%). In 2020, Jackson threw for 26 TDs, with Brown accounting for 30% of those when he hauled in 8. Across those two seasons then, Brown accounted for roughly one-quarter of Jackson’s 62 passing scores.
If you draw a line through Jackson’s injury-shortened 2021 campaign and allow for a reasonable bounce-back year which averages his two best statistical passing seasons, then it’s fair to expect 30 passing TDs.
Last season, Mark Andrews may have only scored 9 TDs but Jackson missed five of those games. Rashod Bateman scored only once, but he did snare 46 catches for more than 500 yards receiving. Devin Duvernay, meanwhile, accounted for just 2 TDs in 2021.
If Andrews steadies his production and hauls in 10 scores in 2022–and Bateman shows that he’s the alpha X receiver he believes he can be, matching Brown’s 2020 high-water mark of 8 scores–that leaves just 12 projected TDs for the remaining receivers (and TEs, RBs) to deliver.
If you watch the sizzle reels of Duvernay, Proche, and Wallace, two very important qualities emerge from all three: speed and great hands.
Yes, the receivers who are already in the building are all the Ravens need this season. The rest of the country just hasn’t heard of them yet.
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Outstanding article and my excitement about the WR potential is palpable