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Ravens 2021 Position Review: Wide Receivers

It featured a lot of young talent and was one the team’s select few position groups that didn’t have a player suffer a season-ending injury.

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After a turbulent 2021 season that was ravaged and ultimately derailed by injuries, the Baltimore Ravens are fully focused on moving forward. Before we completely turn the page to the 2022 offseason, let’s look back at the overall performance of their wide receiver position group from this last year. On a roster that had players at several key positions have their seasons cut short, this one managed to stay relatively healthy and showed great promise.

Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown

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2021 stats: 16 games, 16 starts, 146 targets, 91 receptions, 1,008 receiving yards, six touchdowns, 6.9 yards per target, 11.1 yards per reception, and 62.3 catch percentage.

The third-year pro was on pace to set new career highs and shatter franchise receiving records across the board to start the season. Unfortunately, the deterioration of the offensive line coupled with Lamar Jackson’s injury and pre-injury struggles knocked him off course. He still managed to become the first Ravens’ first player at the position to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards since Mike Wallace in 2016.

The line’s inability to consistently hold up long enough spelled doom for the deep passing game that was key to the team’s success in their hot start to the season. Without the constant threat of the long ball, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman force-fed Brown targets underneath and in the short game with the hope that he’d be able to break the occasional long catch-and-run. With a fortified blocking unit providing Jackson ample time to toss the ball down the field regularly, Hollywood could emerge as one of the top young wideouts in the league with numbers to support his claims in 2022.

Rashod Bateman

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2021 stats: 12 games, four starts, 68 targets, 46 receptions, 515 receiving yards, one touchdown, 7.6 yards per target, 11.2 yards per reception, and 67.6 catch percentage.

His debut was delayed by five games due to a groin injury he suffered in training camp that required surgery but once he was activated from short-term injured reserve, the first-round rookie didn’t waste any time making his presence felt. Bateman started out as a lean, mean, chain-moving machine and then started to make more plays down the field and after the catch the more he got acclimated to the speed of the game. He flashed star potential despite being inconsistently targeted and is poised to break out in year two with a full offseason and hopefully healthy training camp to help him build better chemistry with Jackson.

Sammy Watkins

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2021 stats: 13 games, nine starts, 49 targets, 27 receptions, 394 receiving yards, one touchdown, 8.0 yards per target, 14.6 yards per reception, and 55.1 catch percentage.

The eight-year veteran predictably struggled to stay healthy and eventually saw his role on offense fade into obscurity down the stretch as the team gave more snaps to some of their younger players at the position. His one-year deal worth up to $5 million was always viewed as a low-risk-high-reward flier. While he made his fair share of the clutch plays that he had built a reputation for, Watkins also left some plays and points out on the field as well. Even though he was a solid veteran leader for the group in 2021, he is unlikely to return for a second season as the Ravens aim to carve out even larger roles for their young wideouts.

Devin Duvernay

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2021 stats: 16 games, seven starts, 47 targets, 33 receptions, 272 receiving yards, two touchdowns, 5.8 yards per target, 8.2 yards per reception, 70.2 catch percentage, seven rushes, and 50 rushing yards.

In just his second season, the 2020 third-round pick made the Pro Bowl and earned First-Team All-Pro honors, albeit as a punt returner. Duvernay wasn’t utilized to the degree that many were clamoring for in form of a dynamic hybrid role similar to that of Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers. However, he did show more growth as a receiver when given the opportunity and came up with some clutch conversions and spectacular plays. His role on offense will likely grow as the playbook expands and Roman empties his fabled vault.

James Proche

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2021 stats: 14 games, 20 targets, 16 receptions, 202 receiving yards, 10.1 yards per target, 12.6 yards per reception, and 80 catch percentage.

Despite being the healthiest and most consistent player at the position all offseason, training camp, and preseason, the second-year pro didn’t see his efforts rewarded in the regular season. He proved that he could consistently get open, run crisp routes, adjust to make difficult grabs, and find the line to gain to move the chains. Hopefully, Watkins’ likely departure and the continual evolution of the offense will lead to more involvement and an increased role for the well-deserving and underutilized slot receiver.

Tylan Wallace

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2021 stats: 17 games, one start, six targets, two receptions, 23 receiving yards, 3.8 yards per target, 11.5 yards per reception, and 33.3 catch percentage.

At the time he was drafted, the fourth-round rookie out of Oklahoma State was viewed as one of the steals of draft weekend. However, for the vast majority of his first season, Wallace made a name for himself and had a bigger impact on special teams covering kicks than he did on offense catching passes.

He managed to establish himself as one of the best gunners in the league in year one, making nine combined tackles including four solos. Wallace began to see more offensive snaps down the stretch and although his target share didn’t reflect it, he did show what he could do with the ball in his hands during very limited opportunities.

Miles Boykin

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2021 stats: Eight games, one target, one reception, six receiving yards, six yards per target, six yards per reception, and 100 catch percentage.

Like Bateman, the third-year pro opened the season on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury he suffered early in training camp. However, unlike the standout rookie, Boykin wasn’t able to carve out a significant role on offense once he was activated to the 53-man roster. He was mostly relegated to special teams and only played 35 offensive snaps all year long, with 13 being the most in a single game. The 2019 third-round pick will most likely enter the final year of his rookie deal firmly on the roster bubble if he isn’t traded or released in the coming months.