Walking to work today I realized that I had been thinking about how Brandon Lloyd would fit on this team in the wrong way. I loved Anquan Boldin among other things because he was the perfect possession receiver (as a lifelong Ravens fan I love possession football and Anquan is the receiver I feel epitomized everything I love about this team). But I'm not sure a possession receiver is what we need now so much as we just need a number two. Here's why: Torrey Smith is entering his third year, which is often described as the year most wide receivers make the biggest jump. Last year we saw him greatly improve his hands and his route running, and as especially the latter continues to improve this year I see him developing into a true number one receiver and even a borderline pro-bowler if the offense calls for it. Last year we saw him have more success running underneath and intermediate routes and I think in the future he ends up doing as much possession stuff for the Ravens as he does as a down field threat. He could really become the most complete receiver the Ravens have ever had.
The biggest thing Boldin gave the Ravens in the playoffs was a receiver who could pull the ball down out of tough spots when Joe Flacco needed to throw into them. While I think Torrey takes over a lot of the possession duties, that could be an area where we have some need. Brandon Lloyd is no Anquan Boldin, but he does have the ability to go up and get the ball in traffic. I also think his inconsistency is a little overblown, he was fantastic when the 49ers gave him a shot, went through a slump on the Redskins where he was in the doghouse (certainly not the only breakout player ever who under performed after getting traded to or signed by Washington), had one solid but unspectacular year for the Bears and then played terrifically again when given a second chance with Denver, eventually leading the league in receiving yards and making a pro bowl. Maybe there were higher expectations in New England, but for each of the past three years this guy has been grabbing more than 70 receptions for more than 900 yards playing for three different teams.
He is at the tail end of his career and has occasionally gotten a bad reputation as a "locker room guy" but clearly not bad enough that it makes the news or we all would have heard more about it. Besides, a guy who doesn't have the best reputation as a teammate can still be a great contributor for a few years (see Pollard, Bernard).
I've only been reading this site for a few months now but I guess I'm not as high on the Ravens' stable of young receivers as a lot people are. In part because if we don't have anyone better than Jacoby Jones to be the number two, I just don't have a lot of hope for what we do have. And in part because as good as Ozzie Newsome has been in the draft, with the exception of Smith the Ravens have been pretty awful in the past decade at drafting and developing young wide receivers. Demetrius Williams is the only other young receiver I remember the Ravens drafting and doing a good job in developing but I have no idea what ended up happening to him. Mark Clayton was okay, but not as good as he was drafted to be so it doesn't feel right counting him as a success. On the other hand, with the exception of Lee Evans (I guess to be fair that means I'm just talking about Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason) the front office has had a lot of success bringing in veteran wide receivers.
Right now in the passing game the Ravens' best three known weapons in some order are Smith, Ray Rice, and Dennis Pitta, I don't want to overreact because that's not a bad list, but it feels like it could be much better. It seems that the Ravens have more than enough cap space for Lloyd considering how the market has responded to him. And with the defense shored up, and a hopefully healthy Bryant McKinnie amounting to the kind of blocking we saw during the playoffs, the loss of Anquan Boldin seems like the only place the Ravens' roster got noticeably worse heading into this next season (even though I'm sure Ozzie made the right move in the long run). In addition to Lloyd and the current stable, some other names have been floated around as possible additions to the team. I'm curious, what does everyone think about our prospects for the second wide receiver spot? Does anyone know what ever happened to Demetrius Williams?