If there is one area in which the Baltimore Ravens could stand to improve, it would have to be the passing game, which frankly is something that they work at, at least in-game, less than any other team. In fact, they attempted 157 fewer passes than the league average last season—quite a significant divergence.
Even though the Ravens have the youngest-ever league MVP at the quarterback position, who is just going into his fourth season now, in Lamar Jackson, questions have been raised about whether or not they are a team that can attract top wide receiver talent via free agency because of the limitations of the passing game.
Baltimore has been open in the past about valuing, for example, the ability and willingness to bloc when looking at wide receiver traits, which is not something that everybody is going to embrace, but with such a run-heavy offense, it’s something they have no choice but to take into consideration.
But it’s also clear that they could stand to upgrade their wide receiver position, which currently features Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche, all draft picks over the past two years, with Brown a first-round selection, and Boykin and Duvernay being third-round picks.
The Ravens actually have a history of finding some of their best wide receivers via outside free agency or trade, like Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith, and Derrick Mason, so it’s certainly a resource that they have exploited in the past. But they’ve never been such a run-heavy team before, either. General manager Eric DeCosta was asked about concerns regarding attracting wide receiver talent in free agency:
“I don’t really think too much about that”, he said, via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. “Basically, what I do is evaluate the players, and then if we like them, we’ll call the agent and we call the player. If they want to play for us, great. If they don’t, OK — that’s just the way it is. Not a lot of rocket science involved”.
It may not be rocket science, but it’s not necessarily a good thing if certain top players at a premium position that you’re looking for don’t want to play for your team because they expect to be put in positions that don’t accentuate their skill sets or promise production that will help them in future deals.
And considering the fact that the Ravens’ historical track record of drafting wide receivers is…less than great, that’s a bigger issue than it might appear. Torrey Smith, to date, remains the most productive wide receiver that the team has ever drafted in their entire 25-year history. And he produced 3591 yards and 30 touchdowns over four years. I’m not even sure they have ever signed a wide receiver they drafted to a second contract.