Guest Post by Cody Colston.
It’s that time of year again! The 2013 NFL Training Camps have begun! In honor of that, its time to look at the Wide Receiver competition and where each of the receivers in camp stack up.
Torrey Smith: Expected to take the number one spot on the depth chart, Torrey caught 49 passes for 855 yards and 8 TDs in the regular season.
Torrey is known for using his speed to get behind the defense and taking advantage of Flacco’s powerful arm. Torrey showed progression last year for his rookie year, mainly his route running. Torrey showed he could run more than “Go” and long “Post” routes, in 2012 he ran considerable more “Curl” routes and the occasional routes over the middle.
Jacoby Jones: The most prolific dancer on the team is who many are looking at to be the second receiver on the depth chart; this may not be the case though. Jones caught 30 passes for 406 yards and 1 TD in the regular season, but had 1,508 return yards and 3 TDs. His ability on special teams may limit his reps with the offense or he may split return reps with Deonte Thompson, who handled 15 kickoff returns of the teams 60.
Tandon Doss: Tall and lanky, the 2011 draft pick has seen limited time on the field the past two seasons. Last season, Doss has just 7 catches for 123 yards and 1 TD, compared to nothing in his rookie season. Coming out of Indiana, Doss was known as a possession receiver who used his height to his advantage but would get pushed around in traffic. This almost seems to be the case in his transition to the NFL, out of 21 targets last season; he only caught 7. A third option at best, Doss will need to fight his way up the depth chart.
David Reed: After injuring his ACL in 2011, Reed came back for 5 games and caught 5 passes for 66 yards, his only offensive stats in his career. Mostly known for his performance in 2011 during game against Seattle, where he fumbled 2 times during kickoffs, he most likely is a non-factor in the competition.
LaQuan Williams: Undrafted out of the University of Maryland, Torrey Smith’s college teammate is looking to break onto the scene on 2013. Only playing in 11 games on special teams last season, Williams has impressed the coaching staff during offseason workouts. This is a big season for Williams, who is entering his junior campaign.
Deonte Thompson: The undrafted speedster is opening some eyes this offseason. He caught 5 passes for 51 yards and handled 15 kickoffs for 389 yards. Ravens Wide Receivers Coach Jim Hostler called him “extremely competitive”, “durable”, “a great route runner and finisher”. If Thompson can continue his offseason success during training camp, he could be the Ravens’ “feel-good” story of the year.
Tommy Streeter: A physical freak at 6’5 with 4.4 40 yard dash, Streeter is my dark horse in the competition. After being sidelined the whole season with a foot injury, Streeter looks primed to make his NFL debut. Coming out of Florida, Streeter was known for his Go routes, averaging 17.6 yards a catch and being able to use his size. Streeter’s other routes, however, have been called average and he has been known to catch the ball with his body, not his hands. Streeter has also shown his ability to handle the jump ball in practice. Streeter’s physical size should keep him high on the depth chart.
Aaron Mellette: The 7th rounder has been called the most “Anquan Boldin-like” receiver on the Ravens’ roster. Mellette posted 97 receptions with 1,398 yards and 18 touchdowns, but his stats are notably bloated for being part of a pass-first offense at Elon Pheonix University. His height, routes, and speed in his breaks are what separates him from the rest. Mellette is also known to catch with his body, not his hands, and have trouble in press coverage. He could see a good amount of offensive reps.
Marcus Rivers: On the Packers’ practice squad last year, Rivers is looking to catch a break with the Ravens. A unique blend of height and speed, 6’3 with 4.60 40 yard dash, Rivers could catch a ‘wait-and-see’ approach with the Ravens, as a special teamer or as a practice squad member.
I honestly expect a steady revolving door at number 2 and 3 spots on the offense at Wide Receiver, consisting of Jones, Doss, Thompson, and Streeter, unless one of them proves that they are better than the rest; I say this because of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson.
The Ravens are expected to take a more two tight end approach with their offense, a la the New England Patriots, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t put any stress on the Wide Receiver position, outside of the number one option.
The Ravens could make a move that would surprise some though, Brandon Lloyd, a veteran wide-out who has had three straight seasons of at least 900+ yards and 70+ receptions, is still on the market. Lloyd would be a great asset but don’t necessarily take advantage of Flacco’s best weapon, his arm, and Jim Caldwell has stressed surrounding Flacco with weapons that play to his strengths, specifically the long ball.
This definitely still is the position battle to watch during training camp, though.