If there is one thing that remains lacking for the Baltimore Ravens on the offensive side of the ball, it is a stable group of consistent and productive wide receivers. While the AFC North champions of 2019 went 14-2, catapulted primarily by one of the highest-scoring offenses in NFL history, this was achieved through alternative means than the norm around the NFL—through the wide receiver group.
Not only did the Ravens set a new NFL record for the most rushing yards in a single season—and very nearly had as many rushing yards as passing yards—a great deal of the heavy lifting in the passing game actually came from the tight end position, particularly Mark Andrews, who went to the Pro Bowl.
The team used two high draft picks last season on the position in Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin, the former having some big moments during the year, but often disappearing as well. He had a very productive game in the Ravens’ postseason loss.
Having recently had surgery to remove a screw that was placed in his foot last year as he recovered from a Lisfranc injury, Brown is expected to be at 100 percent health by the time the 2020 regular season commences. He was not fully healthy during his rookie season a year ago.
Both wide receivers are and should be expected to make the ‘second-year jump’, and along with Willie Snead and Chris Moore may represent a more productive group of wide receivers for Lamar Jackson in 2020, who should also be better able to utilize them and get them the ball.
According to ESPN, Baltimore’s wide receivers produced just 1419 receiving yards last season, which is the lowest total by the position group on any team in nearly a decade. You would have to go back to the Jacksonville Jaguars team of 2011 to find a less productive group. They were tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for the fewest receptions of 25 yards or more in 2019 as well.
Last year, general manager Eric DeCosta told reporters heading into the draft that the Ravens as an organization needed to ‘take more swings’ at the wide receiver position. Previous general manager Ozzie Newsome was widely regarded as one of the very best in the league, but if he had one position of weakness, it was wide receiver.
DeCosta used first- and third-round picks on the wide receiver position in his first year as general manager, while also allowing John Brown to walk in free agency and releasing Michael Crabtree. Both were signed as free agents the year prior. DeCosta also signed Michael Floyd to a free agent contract, it should be noted, but he did not make the roster.
I would not imagine that the Ravens are content to sit on their hands and wait for the young wide receivers to grow. They have made it clear in recent years that they are willing to add veteran wide receivers—Mike Wallace, Steve Smith, Jeremy Maclin, and those previously named, for example—so it wouldn’t be surprising if they use multiple avenues to address the position this offseason.