In an effort to rebuild their offensive scheme and strategy, the Ravens receiving core has undergone yet another overhaul in free agency and the draft. John Brown left in free agency and was replaced by Seth Roberts, Michael Crabtree was released, and the Ravens drafted Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin.
Baltimore has struggled to develop a cohesive receiving unit in the past, but doing so now with Lamar Jackson at the helm is more important than ever. Check out some bold predictions for the WR position below and be sure to join the conversation!
Chris Moore eclipses his career total in receiving yardage
Entering his fourth season in the NFL, Chris Moore has just 490 career receiving yards under his belt. Since the Ravens drafted the former Cincinnati product in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, Moore has primarily made his mark on special teams while occasionally flashing offensive upside in limited spurts. If Moore is going to take a significant step forward as a receiver, now is his chance. Moore figures to battle Miles Boykin and Seth Roberts in training camp and preseason for a starting spot. Boykin has significantly higher upside but needs to develop a bit, while Roberts is the more accomplished receiver but has never recorded more than 494 yards in a single season. If Moore can do enough to win the vacant starting WR role, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to post career-best numbers - including eclipsing 490 receiving yards, his career total to this point. If you stretch that out over a full 16-game season, Moore would only need to post roughly 31-32 YPG.
Miles Boykin posts at least five touchdown receptions
Assuming Moore is the starter, where would that leave third-round pick Miles Boykin? Even outside of the top three spots on the depth chart, Boykin figures to see the field in spurts and receive opportunities, particularly as a redzone threat. At 6’4”, Boykin has great size for the position and can utilize his body control to win positioning battles against defenders. He also great hands, too, as he very rarely struggled with drops during his college career. Add all this together and Boykin would seem to be an ideal weapon within the 5-10 yard line, where his traits would come in handy as a jump ball maestro. Think Michael Crabtree but with more athleticism and better hands. Five touchdowns may be bold depending on how much he sees the field, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
Marquise Brown wins Offensive Rookie of the Year
The lisfranc injury “Hollywood” Brown is currently nursing is cause for some concern, but all signs point to him being healthy for training camp. Assuming he makes a full recovery and doesn’t suffer any setbacks throughout the season, Brown figures to have a significant impact. In addition to his ability to stretch the field vertically, Brown thrives in the intermediate areas of the field, where he can utilize his speed to make plays after the catch and turn short gains into long ones. I envision we’ll see a lot of this next season as he develops chemistry with Lamar Jackson. Is it crazy to think he could win OROTY honors? Maybe not.
Highlight plays get national attention, and Brown figures to make plenty of those throughout the season. He’s already fairly well-known around the league for a rookie, too, in large part due to his nickname, “Hollywood”. Brown’s main competition for this award would likely be Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson, and Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, among others. Brown is talented enough to beat out these guys. It’s a matter of staying healthy and being put in positions to succeed.
Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott don’t make the 53-man roster
In an ideal world, this prediction doesn’t come to fruition. Would it be nice to see either Jordan Lasley or Jaleel Scott, or both, make significant strides in their second career seasons? Most definitely. However, they’re essentially entering their sophomore campaigns as rookies again after not contributing at all last year. Scott didn’t have the chance to do so after being placed on IR, but still. Lasley and Scott now find themselves amongst a crowded group of receivers with a definitive top five on the depth chart: Brown, Boykin, Moore, Roberts, and Willie Snead IV. The Ravens usually don’t carry more than five or six players at the position, so the odds are already not in their favor. It would take a big time offseason for either of these guys to earn their keep.
An undrafted free agent fills out the depth chart
This prediction coincides with the previous one, as an undrafted free agent WR making the roster would push Lasley and Scott out of the picture. The two names to watch here are Antoine Wesley and Jaylen Smith. Wesley, a junior out of Texas Tech, posted 88 receptions, 1,410 receiving yards and nine touchdowns for the Red Raiders last season. He was one of the top UDFA available following the draft and the Ravens moved quickly to bring him in. Smith, a four-year starter at Louisville, can’t match the production or skill set of Wesley but he does have something else working in his favor. Smith was one of the Lamar Jackson’s favorite targets in college and the two developed a nice rapport. They also spent time earlier this offseason working out together in Florida. It wouldn’t be surprising to see either of these guys do enough in the summer to win the final receiver spot.