Entering the 2012 off season Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome identified the receiver position as an area the team was looking to upgrade. So far, through the first round of free agency and the NFL draft, they have not done much to bolster their receiving core.
Lee Evans recently signed with Jacksonville to catch wobbly passes from second year quarterback Blaine Gabbert and just about all the worth while free agent wide outs from the 2012 free agent class have signed elsewhere. I think the team was aiming to land a top tier receiver in the draft but the board just didn't seem to fall their way this year, at least as far as receivers go.
Baltimore did however draft Miami wide out Tommy Streeter in the sixth round but this move is not expected to pay immediate dividends. Recently when Ravens' GM in waiting Eric DeCosta was asked about the third receiver position he said it would be a tough competition between Tandon Doss and David Reed. Sound Familiar? This is pretty much where the Ravens were at this point last season. Then the team decided to trade for Lee Evans shortly before the preseason began.
Tandon Doss has yet to record a catch in the NFL and spent the majority of the 2011 season on the inactive list on game days. After being hand picked by quarterback Joe Flacco in last years draft I'm sure Doss expected to see a bit more playing time than he has so far. Still, Doss is an intriguing option. He has great hands and is an excellent route runner. He is very similar to Ravens wide out Anquan Boldin. In fact he may be a bit too similar. Some speculate that the reason Doss has not seen more time is because the team is looking more for another wide out to line up wide opposite Torrey Smith, moving Boldin back into his natural position in the slot.
David Reed has had an up and down NFL career. He has shown flashes of greatness in the return game and looked lost and over-matched on other occasions. We still have not seen enough from him on offense to grade him one way or another. Some of this comes from a history of getting injured at inopportune times in his career but one would think that if he had something to offer the offense the Ravens would find a way to get him involved. Reed has the speed to be a legitimate down field threat but know one knows how he will return after his most recent injury or where he stands with the Ravens coaches after his debacle in Seattle last season.
There are two other options currently on the roster to make a run for the open receiver position, second year undrafted free agent La'Quan Williams and rookie Tommy Streeter. I talked about Streeter a bit earlier. He has rare and impressive measurables, standing at 6'5" and running a 4.40-40. However the knock on Streeter has been that he has inconsistent hands and is sloppy in his route running.
Last season when Boldin went down with an injury and Torrey Smith stepped up to be the number one receiver it was La'Quan Williams who the team turned to when they needed another target for Joe Flacco. Williams ended the season with four catches for over 40 yards so maybe he has a bit of a leg up on the competition.
The final option for Baltimore will be the second round of free agency as teams start to make roster cuts before the season starts. The Ravens have done well at this time in the past few years and could do so again in 2012. This would probably depend on getting the right player at the right price. If they do not see anyone they like that they could get at a price that would not hurt the team, they will probably stay with what they have currently on the roster. However if the right player is made available, don't be surprised to see Ozzie pull the trigger on another late deal to bolster the receiving core in Baltimore.