After the departure of wide receiver Torrey Smith to San Francisco and Jacoby Jones being cut, many analysts and fans expected that the Ravens offense would be worse in 2015 simply because they didn't have the weapons available. After another amazing NFL Draft, the Ravens are seemingly stacked at the wide receiver position with unproven talent. That will ultimately lead to a lot of competition this offseason between the receiving corps to decide who will get the starting nod and who will see snaps on the field at all.
First we look at the wide receivers currently on the Ravens roster.
Steve Smith Sr.
That is eight wide receivers when the Ravens can have a maximum of five on the field at any single time. Clearly a few of these guys won't be on the final 53-man roster come week one. But let's take a look at each wide receiver singly and see what they bring to the team as well as their chances of making the final roster.
Aiken is a wide receiver that many, including the Ravens have compared to Anquan Boldin. A big receiver at 6-foot-2 and 215-pounds and a 40-yard dash time of 4.45, the comparisons make sense. However, injuries and inconsistent route running has kept Aiken from really blowing up. He has good hands but can't get separation enough to really make an impact on the team thus far. If he can't show some serious growth this offseason, it is likely that Aiken is on the bubble looking in.
Similar to Aiken, Brown is one of the biggest bodies on the Ravens roster at 6-foot-5 and 214-pounds. Brown had a great year for the ravens in 2013, ending the year with 7 touchdowns. However, inconsistencies last season kept Brown from making a major impact. Only 24 receptions and no touchdowns shows that Brown is an up and down type of player.
Butler was a UDFA for Baltimore last season and didn't register a catch or game played. With no main physical attributes that stand out on the roster, Butler will have to hope that route running and excellent hands show up in training camp to avoid being waived. 6-foot-2 and 205-pounds with a 4.6 40-yard dash time just doesn't wow on this roster like it might have several years ago. I'd say that there is likely a 5% chance that Butler is wearing purple this season.
Campanaro is a player that the Ravens drafted late in the 2014 NFL Draft and came on later in the season for Baltimore. While only registering four games played and only 7 receptions, Campanaro does have a touchdown on his professional resume and looks to be the starting kick and punt returner after the departure of Jacoby Jones. Campanaro is a quicker underneath player in the mold of Wes Welker that the Ravens will likely want to use in packages on offense this season. It would take another player on this list absolutely wowing the coaches with Campanaro completely losing it for him to not remain on the roster come week 1. Even if he is kept on simply because of his special teams capabilities, there is very little chance that Camp is off the team.
There is seriously no way that Perriman isn't on the roster this season. Being a first round draft pick just a few days ago kind of assures that while his speed and size help cement it. At 6-foot-2 and 212-pounds, Perriman is a bigger receiver but doesnt stand out when compared to the rest of the Ravens' receiving corps. What does make the kid stand out is his blistering speed with a 4.25 50-yard dash time. Perriman should be an immediate replacement for departed wide receiver Torrey Smith with the upside and potential to be a true number 1 receiver that the Ravens have never had.
You are probably wondering who the hell this guy is. Well, he was on Washington's roster last for the last three seasons. 2014 was his worst season as a pro, logging only a single reception for six yards. 2013 was his best, starting one game and getting 18 receptions with 2 touchdowns. A faster but smaller receiver at 5-foot-10 and 184-pounds with a 4.43 second 40-yard dash time, Robinson is a guy that could very well compete with Michael Campanaro for time on the field in wide receiver packages underneath or in the seam. I'll call it right now... I think this is a guy to watch this offseason with how the Ravens want to use him and his time on the field compared to Campanaro.
Steve Smith Sr.
You know the name, now ice up son! Smith will likely be the starting wide receiver come week one but could be edged out by Perriman towards the end of the season depending on how both play. Smith is getting older and will be turning 36 this season. One of the smallest receivers on the Ravens roster, Smith is certainly here to stay for at least this season and should be able to help develop the young receivers that Baltimore has on it's roster. Smith still has enough speed to take some defensive backs deep and keep a safety over top of him, but primarily, he will work as the type of player that can run multiple routes and gain separation that way. We all saw it last year, but Smith will do well with some room to run and make a play with his physicality, so the Ravens will use quick cuts and timing patterns with Smith to maximize his potential.
HOLY HELL! That's a big boy! 6-foot-6 and 240-pounds, you'd think we were talking about a tight end here. Waller was drafted just a few days ago by the Ravens in the 6th round, so he figures to see the final roster simply by being a draft pick of the Ravens and with his massive size. Surprisingly fast for a player of his size, Waller put up a 4.46 40-yard dash time, but is definitely faster than quick and doesn't have the route running experience at this point to be an immediate impact player all over the field. Waller will be a developmental player but could see time immediately in the red zone because of his size and speed and could easily be a player that is a steal for the Ravens in a few years as he learns to use his size and speed to his advantage and run better routes. An interesting prospect for sure, I doubt that he would survive the time needed to make it to the practice squad without being snatched up, so I think he makes the final roster.
As you can see, it is going to be an interesting training camp for the Ravens. Once a point of weakness on the team, this offseason, it seems to have gone to a point of strength for Baltimore with not enough open roster spots for the guys that deserve to make it on pure intrigue alone. The competition for the undersized but quick receiver should be fun to see as the Ravens will likely want to use a few of their guys in different ways. Who can get a quick connection with quarterback Joe Flacco and can improve their route running? Who will be the player that comes out of nowhere to put up big numbers this season? All of these are questions that we'll start to get the answers to once players put on pads and begin to run around in the heat.