OWINGS MILLS — Tommy Streeter bolted past a Virginia Tech cornerback toward the corner of the end zone last fall, elevating high into the air to haul in a touchdown pass on a fade route.
Bigger, stronger and faster than defensive backs, the towering University of Miami wide receiver routinely accelerated away from the pack to gain separation during an encouraging junior season.
The athletic 6-foot-5, 220-pounder did enough to convince the Baltimore Ravens to draft him in the sixth round with the 198th overall selection.
"I feel like it’s always a mismatch whenever I’m on the field," Streeter told 24×7 in a telephone interview prior to reporting for a three-day rookie minicamp that began Friday."It’s rare to have a cornerback that’s big and physical and fast. There might be a little guy that can run with you, but I feel like when it comes time to match up with me in either one of those departments, it’s rare to have the size and the speed and be a physical enough player to cover me."
Streeter isn’t exaggerating about his physical prowess. This isn’t your typical sixth-round draft pick.
It’s unique to find a wide receiver who has NBA shooting guard size who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds with a 10-5 broad jump that can bench press 225 pounds 17 times.
"Tommy was the best player on our board," Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta said. "We were excited about him. It’s unusual to get a receiver with that kind of size who can run like that. These kinds of guys are rare at times. If you have a chance to get a guy like that and you are in the right position in the draft, it’s probably a good thing and he was the guy."
The Ravens envision Streeter operating initially as an imposing red-zone target and deep threat to complement starting wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith.
Streeter declared early for the draft in anticipating of going much higher in the draft. The Ravens signed him to a four-year, $2.194 million contract that includes a $94,500 signing bonus.
He thrived last season in his lone year as a regular starter for the Hurricanes, catching a career-high 46 passes for 811 yards and eight touchdowns. He won a Most Improved Player award and was named second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference by one publication.
"I kind of thought I would get picked in the second round or third round," Streeter said. "After those rounds went by, it got to the point where like, ‘I know I’m going to make it out of this round.’ Things weren’t falling that way. I stayed next to my phone and kept watching the draft. It was out of my hands at that point.
"I believe in God and I knew I would be picked. I’m definitely excited to go to a team with such great players and great coaches. I couldn’t ask for a better situation."
The Ravens ended Streeter’s anxiety, obtaining a downfield target with a ton of upside.
Streeter averaged 17.63 yards per reception last season after catching only six passes during his first two seasons.
Streeter acknowledged that his route-running can still use more polish and diversity.
"Yeah, I can agree with that," said Streeter, who worked out privately for the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins before the draft. "I wasn’t asked to run all the double-moves and different routes due to the offense I was in. I did what was asked of me. Everybody has a job or skill set different than the other guys. The coaches took advantage of that.
"You bring me in as a deep threat to stretch the field vertically. There are areas I can work on, dropping my hips and working on my technique to explode out of my routes and create separation. It’s a process. Going into the league, I’m excited for the challenge. I just want to get better."
Once former Temple coach Al Golden took over the Miami program, everything clicked for Streeter after barely being utilized by previous coach Randy Shannon.
"I was given an opportunity," Streeter said. "Coach Golden came in and, he had the mindset of not basing anything off the old coaches or how the other staff felt. He went off what he saw. I had the mentality to prove myself and got the opportunity.
"Those guys came in at the bowl game and watched practice. That was the time my opportunity had begun from that moment. The coaches did a great job of pushing me and trying to get the best out of me. Coach Golden does a great job of developing you on and off the field and getting you mentally tough by conditioning your mind to be a well-rounded young man."
That definitely fits Streeter’s description
Streeter is deeply religious and his mother is the pastor of a Baptist church in Hollywood, Fla.
"My faith is something that’s very important to me," Streeter said. "It kind of shapes and molds everything that I do. The way that I present myself in the community and the kind of person that I am is all because of my faith. My parents instilled positive things in me to make me a better man. I’m a humble servant of Christ."
Streeter feels fortunate to wind up in Baltimore.
The Ravens are the defending AFC North champions. They have an established veteran in Boldin to learn from. And they have a strong-armed quarterback in Joe Flacco who’s capable of airing out long passes for Streeter to run under.
"It’s a great situation for me to learn from those guys and be groomed by them and the coaching staff to have success by giving me tips to take my game to the next level," Streeter said. "It’s always exciting to have a guy like Joe Flacco that has good arm strength and can get the ball out there and let you catch the ball in stride and make big plays."