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Why Michael Crabtree is Anquan Boldin 2.0

Could Michael Crabtree’s impact in Baltimore mirror that of former Raven Anquan Boldin?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

As the Ravens marquee free agent signing this offseason, the expectations are high for Michael Crabtree this season. He is expected to provide high-level production on the field, while also bringing leadership to the locker room.

Baltimore has long had a lackluster receiving core, and they are banking on Crabtree being a key factor in boosting the passing game this season.

Crabtree has been one of the better possession receivers in the league for the past several seasons, and he is particularly effective in the red zone. Crabtree is adept at using his size and route-running savviness to make contested catches.

These attributes can also be applied to former Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin. In terms of physical makeup and on-field ability, Crabtree and Boldin draw many similarities.

Both players stand at 6-foot-1 and are close in weight, although Boldin is slightly larger (218 to 215 Ibs). While Boldin is now retired, his play style very much mirrored Crabtree’s today.

Neither receiver possesses elite speed or quickness, but their production is not reliant on athletic ability. Much like Crabtree, Boldin utilized his footwork and route-running skills to create separation from defenders.

Both players are physical wide receivers. Throughout his career, especially during his time in Baltimore, Boldin became known for making contested catches. Watch here how he uses his body control to seize the ball in the end zone, much like Crabtree does in the clip above.

During his three years in Baltimore, Boldin led the team in receving yards and was essential to the team’s success. He was particularly crucial during the Ravens 2012 Super Bowl run, when he routinely made big plays in big moments.

While Crabtree may not hoist the Lombardi trophy as a Raven, he could have a similar on-field impact. Crabtree will be Flacco’s go-to target this upcoming season, and figures to hold a significant role in the offense for the next few years.

As he did with Boldin, Flacco often gives his receivers chances to make plays on the ball. Given Crabtree’s potency at winning 50-50 catches, we can expect to see this often.

Crabtree and Boldin’s nearly identical play-styles are reflected in their statistics. Take a look at Crabtree’s production as Oakland Raider over the past three seasons, compared to what Boldin did in Baltimore.

Crabtree vs. Boldin Comparison

Stats Crabtree (2015-2017, OAK) Boldin (2010-2012, BAL)
Stats Crabtree (2015-2017, OAK) Boldin (2010-2012, BAL)
Games 46 45
Receptions 232 186
Yards 2,543 2,645
Touchdowns 25 14
Yards Per Game 55.3 58.8

Starting 45 games each, Boldin and Crabtree posted almost the exact same number of total yards and yards per game. While Boldin does hold a slight advantage in said categories, Crabtree caught more touchdowns and receptions.

Nevertheless, the numbers are comparative and further highlight the similarities between Crabtree and Boldin.

Boldin will go down as one of the better receivers in franchise history. For what he provided on the field, he matched with veteran leadership and a steady locker room presence.

It is too early to determine whether or not Crabtree will match Boldin’s accomplishments as a Raven. However, given his role and talent, there is good reason to believe Crabtree will have a Boldin-like impact in Baltimore.

Boldin brought a level of toughness and leadership at the receiver position. Crabtree figures to do the same, while being just as productive - if not more.