Aaron Mallette

It’s not easy being a 7th round pick.

Being drafted in the 7th round doesn’t always guarantee you a spot on a 53-man roster in the NFL. More often times than not, its a player you don’t hear much of.

A guy who relishes the opportunities in training camp and pre-season games to make a name for himself. Sometimes those players don’t have much of a fighting chance, finding themselves way down the depth chart. If the player happens to be cut, maybe, just maybe another team takes a shot on him.

For Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Aaron Mellette, the 7th round pick has found himself in the middle of opportunities this pre-season and has looked good doing so.

In his case, being a 7th round pick is just a title.

Mellette, who was drafted 238th overall out of Elon in this year’s draft, has drawn the ire of head coach John Harbaugh at times, calling his play during training camp one afternoon recently, “lackadaisical” and “lazy” (which is really one in the same) and telling coaches to remove him (Mellette) from the field, so it may not have looked good for the rookie.

And though Harbaugh has said that interaction was more for Mellette’s benefit to get the best out of him because the potential is there, its certainly awoken something inside of the 6’3″, 217 pound receiver.

Since then, he’s taken that perceived cut down and translated it into two touchdown scores (the only two catches he’s had) and 61 yards receiving. He was a guy I thought actually had a shot to make some noise in camp and he hasn’t disappointed me yet. He’s used his speed to separate and wasn’t fazed with defenders draped on him.

But we must be realistic for just a moment. One, the scores came against defensive backs who themselves are clinging to a roster spot and hope they don’t receive the cut slip in the near future. And two, the throws came from backup QB, Tyrod Taylor and not starting QB, Joe Flacco.

The third pre-season game is usually when you see the offense and defense crank it up and prepare for the game as if it were a regular season game. Mellette has ran mostly with the second-and-third string guys all camp, but now is the time to see what he can do with Flacco throwing passes to him as the rest of the wide receiver depth chart continues to flounder.

Its not out of the question at all that Mellette could take his skill set and what he’s done against competition thus far and continue his solid play at game speed quicker and against competition that will resemble something he’ll see September 5th in Denver against the Broncos.

A quick history lesson will show that its not improbable for this rookie to make an immediate impact for the Ravens. It has happened in the NFL before.

Look no further than in 2006 when a fellow 7th round draft pick, Marques Colston, drafted by the New Orleans Saints, came out of nowhere to catch 70 balls for 1,038 yards and eight scores.

Granted, he had all-world QB Drew Brees (also in his first season in New Orleans) throwing passes his way. Do I think Mellette could come right in and catch 60-70 balls in his first pro season? Not likely, but given his size and ability to go get the football, Mellette and Colston begin to draw comparisons in my eyes.

Both have nearly the same size, though Mellette seems more developed in the upper body than Colston at his age. Both weren’t highly touted prospects coming out of small schools and both were drafted at the age of 23.

The difference in my eyes is his speed and ability to separate from defenders and catch the football being a pleasant surprise this pre-season for a team desperately searching for someone to step up and claim a spot at WR.

The Ravens, troubled for years in developing talent at the position, may have something in this 7th round selection. What’s left to see is if Mellette can use the speed and hands he’s shown and do it against better competition at cornerback.

He’ll get that opportunity tonight against the Carolina Panthers to gain even more confidence in the coaching staff that he can see play time in multiple looks in this Ravens offense.

Mellette has history on his side and if he can come out of nowhere like Colston once did for the Saints, then the Ravens will have a very nice surprise on their hands during the 2013 season.

Matt Lund is a contributor for BaltimoreSportsReport.com and co-host of the BSR Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @MattCLund.