Ravens have no clear cut number one receiver

John Grieshop

SB nation took a look at each team's receivers. They looked at each team's leader in receiving yards and each team's second leader in receiving yards each season in order to see what team had the largest gap in talent and scheme.

SB nation took a look at each team's receivers. They looked at each team's leader in receiving yards and each team's second leader in receiving yards each season in order to see what team had the largest gap in talent and scheme.

Let's take a look at what that really means...

Take each team's leader in receiving yards each year since 2008, and call him Dave. Take each team's No. 2 in receiving yards each year since 2008, and call him George. Total Dave's receiving yards in that time. Total George's yards in that time. See how much Dave has outgained George by.

Baltimore Ravens 5,838 4,419 1,419 236.5

As you can see here, "Dave" and "George" are fairly close to one another after 6 seasons and the Ravens are towards the bottom of the list for NFL teams in that regard. What that ultimately means for the Ravens is that their number one receiver isn't clearly outgaining their second best receiver, be that by spreading the ball around to several targets like quarterback Joe Flacco has liked to do his over his career or be that because the Ravens' typical number one receiver has been Torrey Smith and he has been viewed primarily as a deep threat.

Let's take a look at Torrey Smith's numbers last year first.

Receptions Targets Yards YPG Average Longest
65 137 1128 70.5 17.4 74

Smith caught less than half of his passes for one of the highest averages per catch in the league. In fact, Torrey Smith ranked fifth in all of football last year with an average of 17.4 yards per catch. When you factor in that quarterback Joe Flacco ranks third in the NFL for passes of 40+ yards and that 12.4% of all completed passes went for more than 20 yards, you can see that the Ravens loved to heave the ball down the field last season.

As Smith becomes a more complete receiver, you'll see his average per catch go down and his completion percentage go up. With new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak in town, there is finally a chance that Torrey Smith will be utilized for more than just his deep speed and you'll see the player on more intermediate routes like slants and crossing patters where he can catch the ball and do something with it in his hands. It is even being reported that Smith is catching everything in sight

But that doesn't really tell the whole story, does it? Of course the Ravens like to bomb the ball with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones on the outside, it is easy to love that ability really. Let's take a look at the idea that the offense doesn't revolve around a single receiver like so many other top offenses.

The Ravens over the years have done a great job of relying on their tight ends and running backs coming out of the backfield to be a vent for Flacco. You are able to see that in Ray Rice being seventh in the NFL in receptions for running backs with 58 receptions, even during a down year for the player. Looking at Pitta when he was healthy in 2012, you see that he is tied for ninth in the NFL among tight ends for receptions with 61. Keep in mind that Torrey Smith only hauled in 65 passes in 2013 to get a glimpse of just how evenly the offense hits different targets.

When you combine the idea that Torrey Smith is the Ravens' deep threat and how much the Ravens like to spread the ball around, it is easy to see that the Ravens don't rely on any single receiver as the basis of their offense. Losing any of their playmakers hurts the team because it is similar to losing a team's number one receiver. While that lacks a certain fantasy value for the Ravens offense, it means that the Ravens are actually harder to defend than you might think. With the addition of weapons Steve Smith and Owen Daniels and a healthy Dennis Pitta to go with a new, friendlier offensive scheme, the Ravens could very well have multiple studs catching the ball in 2014.

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