One of most critical positions for the Ravens this past offseason was the wide receiver position. Despite the general consensus that Baltimore needed to add a playmaking receiver or two, they failed to address the pressing issue so far in free agency, and in the NFL Draft this past April. The refusal to make a move on a game-changing receiver leaves the Ravens in a precarious position going forward.
In 2016, Baltimore’s receivers were led by Mike Wallace. In his first year with the Ravens, Wallace was able to secure his first 1,000-yard receiving season since 2011. Wallace was a great addition to the Ravens in the offseason of 2016, and his performance was a bright spot on a very disappointing offense. Wallace will likely continue his role as the Ravens’ leading receiver in 2017, as he did in 2017 as a speedy target for Joe Flacco.
Starting on the opposite side of Wallace is Breshad Perriman, Baltimore’s first-round draft pick from 2015. Despite the hopeful expectations of many for Perriman, he has not lived up to the hype as of this point. Perriman sustained a lingering knee issue in the offseason of 2015 and missed his entire rookie season. However, he was able to return to the football field in 2016, which became his defacto rookie season. In 2016, Perriman was largely a disappointment, totaling for just under 500 yards receiving. Despite the doubt-inducing season, Perriman did show some promise towards the end of the season. His two best performances came in the second half of the season, against division rivals the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals. Perriman claims that he is the “real deal”, and in 2017 he will prove himself. However, he has been unable to show he was worth drafting so far, and I have doubts that he will pan out for the Ravens. Hopefully, I’m proven wrong, but I don’t see Breshad Perriman as a receiver the Ravens can depend upon going forward. His injury history and constant drops make him an unreliable target for Joe Flacco.
The Baltimore Ravens have many other, low profile, wide receivers on the roster, who like Perriman, are attempting to make themselves known and make an impact for the team this upcoming season. These include receivers Chris Moore, Michael Campanaro, and Keenan Reynolds. Chris Moore is going into his second season with the Ravens, after being drafted out of Cincinnati in 2016, in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Moore was largely an afterthought in the offense, only catching 7 passes for 46 yards. However, he made a huge impact on special teams for the Ravens, scoring off of a punt block against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a botched punt attempt by the New York Jets. Moore has the potential for greatness and will get a great opportunity going into the season as the Ravens’ third wide receiver on the depth chart.
Michael Campanero should be a familiar name by now for Ravens. Campanero, a Maryland native, first joined the Ravens in 2014. He was picked in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. Campanaro showed promise as a receiver and punt/kick returner in 2014. However, his time with the Ravens was temporarily derailed by numerous injuries. Before the 2016 season, the Ravens cut Campanero from the roster but later brought him back for the final three games of the season. Campanero has proven himself to be more than capable as a receiver and on special teams, however, he needs to stay healthy during the 2017 season. If he stays healthy, expect Campanero to make a name for himself in the NFL.
Keenan Reynolds is the most intriguing player on this roster. He was a prolific quarterback for the Naval Academy and was even in the conversation to be a Heisman finalist during his senior year. The Ravens drafted him in the sixth round of the NFL Draft in 2016, hoping he could make the transition to wide receiver. (Much like Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots.) Baltimore cut Reynolds from the 53 man roster at the end of the preseason last season and placed him on the practice squad where they hoped he would develop as a receiver. By the last game of the season, the Ravens elevated Reynolds from the practice squad to the 53 man roster, to ensure that he would not be able to be wooed by any other NFL team in the offseason, and be lured away from Baltimore. Reynolds has a unique opportunity, as a graduate of the Naval Academy, to become a beloved player by many. Hopefully, Reynolds can take advantage of the opportunity of a depleted roster when it comes to receivers, and emerge as a great receiver in the NFL.
The Ravens also have other opportunities to grab another receiver in free agency. There are rumors of a reunion with Ravens fan favorite Anquan Boldin. The Ravens have expressed interest in acquiring Boldin, but Boldin will not likely sign with a team until team activities start. Another option for the Ravens is former Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who has released earlier this offseason. Cruz is another speedy receiver that would fit well with Joe Flacco. However, Cruz is being targeted by many teams, and the possibility of him playing for Baltimore in 2017 is slim.