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Cohen’s Corner: Michael Crabtree signing was brilliant, for more than just the receiving corps

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Dallas Cowboys v Oakland Raiders Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Ravens have long been in search of a big bodied receiver, with reliable hands, who can be a threat in the red zone. Finally, they acquired that player.

Baltimore was able to land former Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree, filling that very void.

Crabtree has terrorized the Ravens over his NFL career. In four career games against the Ravens, Crabtree has 24 catches for 333 yards and five touchdowns, including Super Bowl XLVII against the Ravens, where Crabtree had 5 catches for 109 yards and one touchdown. In his career, Crabtree has 579 receptions for 6,870 yards and 51 touchdowns. The 6’1”, 215 pound receiver has long been one of the NFL’s best possession receivers, especially in the red zone.

Since the departure of Anquan Boldin, the Ravens have not had a big-bodied, possession receiver. That has been a notable void on the roster for years. Recently, that need has been exacerbated as the Ravens stock up on pure deep threat wide receivers like Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman, who didn’t have reliable hands, and were certainly not possession receivers.

Crabtree brings the possession receiver trait, and brings experience. The Ravens likely won’t bring back Maclin, and it is unknown what they plan to do with Wallace. But the duo of Crabtree’s hands, with John Brown’s speed should give the Ravens a similar receiving corps to what the team had with Boldin and Torrey Smith.

Though not only does adding Crabtree fill a big need in the receiving corps, but it allows the Ravens to change their draft strategy. The wide receiver class in this year’s draft is sub-par at best. Calvin Ridley, the consensus top receiver in this draft, would likely have been ranked as either the fourth of fifth best receiver in last year’s class. With Crabtree, the Ravens may not need to reach on a first round pick for Ridley. This year’s draft doesn’t have much high end receiver talent, but it has a lot of talent on day two. The Ravens could target players like D.J. Moore, Dante Pettis, Marcell Ateman, Simmie Cobbs Jr. or Anthony Miller in the second or third round of the draft.

In the first round, the Ravens can address a different need with a more talented player. Baltimore could draft Connor Williams as the right tackle for the long haul. They could take a sliding defensive player, hopefully for the Ravens sake, that winds up being Derwin James or Roquan Smith. The Ravens now also have the option to trade back, acquire more picks, and still get a weapon on offense, in the form of Dallas Goedert. The team could also target Christian Kirk, Isaiah Wynn, Derrius Guice or James Daniels.

The Michael Crabtree signing was a fantastic one by the Ravens staff. Crabtree fills an immediate need in the receiving corps, and allows the Ravens to have significantly more flexibility in the draft. After missing out on the top free agent wide receivers, the Ravens yet again turned to the market of salary cap cuts, and as he always does, Ozzie Newsome took advantage.