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Michael Crabtree ranked as a “clear No. 1” wide receiver by ESPN

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Mike Clay and NFL Nation sat down to rank the league’s No. 1 wide receivers based on target share projections for the upcoming season. Target share is defined as the percentage of a team’s total targets directed at an individual player. Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Crabtree was included as a tier 1: clear No. 1 receiver, tied for eighth along side Kelvin Benjamin and Alshon Jeffrey with a 23 percent projected target share in 2018. Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is projected to command the greatest target share next season at 33 percent, and divisional rival Antonio Brown ranks second at 29 percent.

Over the course of his tenure in the NFL, Crabtree has finished each season with a target share of at least 21 percent. Jamison Hensley compares Crabtree to Anquan Boldin, noting Boldin’s production with the Ravens from 2010 to 2012. Fans should find this parallel a promising sentiment, given Boldin’s integral role in Baltimore’s title run during his last season with the franchise.

Entering his tenth year in the league, the Ravens will hope Crabtree is able to record what would be just his third 1,000 plus receiving yard season. In his final year with the Raiders, he produced his second lowest average receiving yards per game, only out performing his 2013 campaign with San Francisco when he played in just five contests.

At 30-years-old, Crabtree is approaching the twilight stage of his NFL career. However, he still scored eight touchdowns for a 6-10 Oakland squad last season, just a single end zone trip shy of his career-high. The physical, grizzled veteran will be asked to provide the kind of leadership the Ravens wide receiver position group desperately seeks. Rookie receivers Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley will certainly benefit from the tutelage, and if Breshad Perriman is retained on the roster, Crabtree could also become a much-needed example for the struggling 2015 first round selection.