The Baltimore Ravens could definitely use another wide receiver. As Garrett Downing pointed out, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman may be the fastest wideout pairing in the NFL. However, the backups currently under contract have relatively little experience.
Whether the front office reaches an agreement with an aging veteran such as Anquan Boldin or Victor Cruz, or acquires a younger pass catcher through a trade, further depth is necessary at the receiver position. Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury and had issues with knee inflammation as an adolescent. Wallace has only missed one game to injury over his eight year career, but will turn 31 years old before the season starts.
If either projected starter misses an extended period of time, an already below average receiver corps could become a major liability. The Ravens lost Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken this offseason, two of their four leading wideouts last season. The remaining in-house options expected to populate receiver depth chart are underwhelming.
Second year man Chris Moore caught seven of 16 targets last season for 46 yards. Darren Waller, a big bodied red zone target who has received snaps at wide receiver and tight end, could struggle to create separation on the outside. Chris Matthews, who starred for the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, did catch a touchdown for the Ravens in 2015 but missed all of 2016 with a thumb injury. Vince Mayle and Kenny Bell, mid round picks in the 2015 draft, have bounced around the league and failed to record any receptions over their first two seasons.
Quincy Adeboyejo and Tim Patrick are a pair of tall undrafted rookies who could push for a roster spot. And the team has a few options for the slot receiver/return specialist role in Michael Campanaro, Keenan Reynolds and Tim White. At least one of these backups should be able to develop into a reliable third option in training camp. Still, the Ravens will carry at least five receivers on their Week 1 roster, preferably with at least four who can be a viable threat to keep the safeties back when lining up on the outside.
Fortunately, the same schematic changes that have produced a shortage of quality offensive lineman coming from the collegiate level have also provided a surplus of capable wide receivers. Many teams around the NFL have an excess of quality receivers, including several intriguing young receivers that would upgrade the Ravens roster.
Considering the recent rule change that eliminates the 75-man roster cutdown, Baltimore should be proactive in trading a future late round pick or developmental player for a desirable young receiver before the final roster cutdown, if they do not sign a veteran. Possible trade partners...
The Eagles signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith this offseason, and Jordan Matthews will return. They also drafted Mack Hollins in the fourth and Shelton Gibson in the fifth rounds. These moves should make upside receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and former first round selection Nelson Agholor expendable.
Minnesota snapped up Michael Floyd earlier this month and Stefon Diggs is their top target. They also selected Laquon Treadwell in the first round in 2016 and Stacy Coley in the last draft. Adam Thielen is one of the most underrated players in the league as a dependable threat with return ability. Jarius Wright also has the potential to blossom if given a greater opportunity.
The 49ers may seem like an odd choice because they have one of the least talented rosters in the league, but they have been a preferred trading partner for the Ravens lately and have a couple intriguing receivers. San Fransisco signed Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin this offseason. Bruce Ellington and Jeremy Kerley should round out their top four. That leaves DeAndre Smelter, a player with legitimate number one potential if he can stay healthy, and Aaron Burbridge as potential trade targets.
Former Clemson star Mike Williams was acquired with the seventh overall pick last month. Keenan Allen is expected to return from injury and Travis Benjamin is a solid slot man. Rookie Artavis Scott could also factor into the mix. Both Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams have a proven baseline of production and would immediately slot in as the Ravens third option if they can pry either away.