There appears to be a minor schism developing between the Baltimore Ravens organization and its fans. The fans are insulted by the fact that the Ravens don’t have a quality group of wide receivers. The Ravens are insulted by that suggestion. And we’ve seen that a number of times this offseason, with high-ranking members of the organization growing defensive on the topic.
It was general manager Eric DeCosta’s turn yesterday to weather the topic of the lack of quality and depth at the wide receiver position with the Ravens, which has been the least productive passing game in terms of receptions and yardage over the past two years.
“I’m aware that there’s some fan discontent with our wide receivers and our drafting and all that,” he told reporters yesterday during a press conference. “We’ve got some really good young receivers. It’s insulting to these guys when they hear that we don’t have any receivers. It’s quite insulting. I’m insulted by it too, to be honest. I think we’ve got some guys that want to show everybody what they can do.”
DeCosta and the Ravens made it a priority to add a veteran wide receiver this offseason. After striking out with names such as JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.Y. Hilton, they ended up signing Sammy Watkins, who has spent the past few seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs as the number three or four target.
The bulk of Baltimore’s receiving corps consists of players that they have drafted the past two years. Most notable is Marquise Brown, its first-round pick in 2019. Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay are both third-round draft picks, while Baltimore selected James Proche in 2020’s sixth round. Among others, they also have former Steeler Deon Cain on the roster.
Brown was the leading receiver on the team in 2020 with 58 receptions for 769 yards and eight touchdowns. Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews was the only player who came close. He caught 58 passes, for 701 yards and seven scores.
Willie Snead had been the team’s veteran slot presence for the past few years, and recently left in free agency. He was their third-leading target last year with 33 catches for 432 yards and three touchdowns. Boykin and Duvernay combined for 39 receptions for 461 yards, and Boykin had all four of the pair’s touchdowns.
In contrast, the Steelers had three receivers record 60-plus receptions for 800-plus yards and seven-plus touchdowns in 2020, in JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool. James Washington also contributed 30 receptions for 392 yards and five touchdowns.
“I know this: Lamar likes the receivers,” DeCosta said in defending the group, though Jackson has also campaigned to add players as well. “I think our coaches like our receivers. The teammates like our receivers.”
But so do the Ravens’ opponents.