The Baltimore Ravens have never been confused with a wide receiver factory, so to speak. While they have drafted and developed plenty of talent over the years, they have never been known for their wide receivers—especially the ones that they draft themselves, rather than signing as free agents.
Can Rashod Bateman finally be the wide receiver who lives up to expectations? A first-round draft pick a year ago, he did catch 46 passes for 515 yards despite missing five games due to injury. He only got into the end zone once, but the 6’2”, 210-pound product can certainly better that.
And he’ll have the opportunity to do so, now with Marquise Brown gone. Brown requested a trade, and the Ravens ultimately obliged on draft day, sending him to the Arizona Cardinals, along with a third-round compensatory pick, to get a first-rounder back.
But they planned to address the wide receiver position later in the draft, and it didn’t exactly work out. They have acknowledged that they still have work to do to address the position, but at this point, it’s clear that Bateman is their number one guy.
“All respect due to him, and I’m going to miss him because he’s my brother, but it was like, it’s my time”, he told reporters yesterday. “I feel like Baltimore drafted me for a reason. They drafted me to be in this position. For me, all I’ve been waiting on is the opportunity. I know what I’m capable of, I feel like the Ravens organization knows what I’m capable of. I’m just excited to go out and finally show it to the fans and especially to my teammates, for sure”.
Bateman suffered a core muscle injury during training camp and ended up having surgery, resulting in him missing the start of his rookie season. He had to jump on the proverbial moving train, but managed to do it will enough to put up over 500 yards while not being the first or second target (Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews being the other).
Brown put up his first 1,000-yard season last year for the Ravens, and caught a career-high 91 passes, only 14 fewer than he had in his first two seasons combined. He produced 21 touchdowns during his three years in Baltimore, as well.
Now both of them seem to believe that they are in a better position. The Cardinals are clearly more of a pass-first offense than is Baltimore. The question is whether or how Greg Roman can find more of a balance—if only to keep everybody happy, which obviously they weren’t doing.