With only 5 days until the start of the Baltimore Ravens training camp in Westminster, Maryland we take a look at what I think will be the 5 most important position battles throughout the month. Starting off the list will be the competitive battle between former first round pick Mark Clayton and newly drafted rookie David Reed.
With Ozzie going out and revamping the WR position in a way that this city has never seen, Clayton and Reed will more than likely be going back and forth with one another for the 4th WR spot in our offense. Since the lineup already seems to be set with Boldin, Mason and Stallworth leading the squad, I feel that the 4th WR spot will be very important for the offense this season. Cam Cameron has yet to have this many weapons on this roster and our current situation could see for many more 4 and 5 WR sets, something we did only 16 times last year.
Let's take a closer look at the battle.Mark Clayton - 5'10" - 190 lbs - 6 Years Experience
Receiving Stats YEAR TEAM G REC YDS AVG LNG TD FD FUM LOST 2005 BAL 14 44 471 10.7 47 2 24 0 0 2006 BAL 16 67 939 14.0 87 5 42 0 0 2007 BAL 16 48 531 11.1 52 0 30 0 0 2008 BAL 16 41 695 17.0 70 3 23 0 0 2009 BAL 14 34 480 14.1 54 2 24 1 1 Career 76 234 3116 13.3 87 12 143 1 1
- To some people, Mark Clayton is a bust at WR for someone who was taken in the first round. However, history has shown that this is the toughest position to be successful at besides QB when taking the step from college to the pros. In the Ravens run first offense, the numbers that Clayton has put up are not too bad considering our QB situation since he has been in the league. Clayton has had a knack for having huge games and then falling off for a stretch.
- What Mark has to do: Mark is going to have to show that he can improve his route running and making the big catch when we need it. Going against teams' nickel and dime CB should allow for an easier opportunity to get open and Clayton definitely still has the speed to get past anybody in this league, just ask Leon Hall of the Bengals. When given the chance to run with the first team, Clayton will have to make the most of the opportunity and show coaches that he can still be a factor in this offense.
David Reed - 6'0" - 190 lbs - Rookie
2009 NCAA FOOTBALL STATS
RECEPTIONS YDS TDS 81 1,188 5
- WR David Reed was taken in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by Baltimore after being touted as a very talented WR at the University of Utah. Reed has been known throughout the college football scene as a guy who makes big plays and can play multiple positions on offense. His elite athleticism was showcased as a kick returner as well.
- What David has to do: Reed has already caused quite a stir in Baltimore with a strong showing at the team's OTA's where it was said he caught every pass thrown his way. With how deep our WR group is, it will be tough for Reed to see the field enough to show that he is making the impact we all want from our rookies. However, he will have to make the most of his chances in training camp and especially pre-season games where Reed will very likely see time as the team's #2 or even #1 WR throughout some games.
Other WR who could make a case for the position: Demetrius Williams, Eron (god of WR) Riley.
Who wins the battle for the 4th WR spot?: In the end, I think we will see Mark Clayton as the team's #4 WR. It is tough to comprehend a battle like this because Baltimore is not used to seeing a battle for a position executed very sparingly in this offense. However, with the growth of Joe Flacco and the depth we now have, which will allow us to spread the ball out more, the 4th WR spot could be very important. Also, with the injury concerns of Boldin, Mason and the unsurity of what we will get from Stallworth, it will be important to know who will step up into a starting role if needed. Clayton has the experience in the NFL and been fairly productive. This is not saying Reed does not have what it takes to be a successful WR for Baltimore, but he should have some struggles making the transition into the NFL. Hopefully he can get a shot to showcase his skills as a return man.