It’s no secret that Ozzie Newsome and The Baltimore Ravens have had their fair share of misses when it comes to drafting wide receivers.
They struck out on first-rounders Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton. Other mid-round picks like Devard Darling, Marcus Smith, Demetrius Williams and Tandon Doss never fared much better. Two (Smith and Doss) in 4 full seasons totaled 7 catches for 123 yards (all belonging to Doss).
In fact when you add up the career statistics of these disappointing players as Ravens and then compare their combined stats to those of Roddy White, a wide receiver taken after Mark Clayton in the 2005 NFL Draft and one that Baltimore native Mel Kiper practically begged the Ravens to select, the results are eye-popping.
Consider the following, the “Field” representing all of the aforementioned players and their combined statistics as Ravens:
The criticisms of the Ravens organization and their historical inability to project wide receivers at the NFL level, is clearly warranted. But that doesn’t mean that it always has to be that way.
The Ravens regularly assess their processes and look for ways to improve. They study body types, intelligence, quickness, the ability to weather adversity and so many other attributes when analyzing college talent. They examine where they’ve failed and strive not to make the same mistakes.
Perhaps the Ravens have already shown signs of improvement. The selection of Torrey Smith in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft seems to be working out. And now they have a couple of rookies, apparently not highly regarded by other NFL clubs, who could emerge as diamonds in the rough.
Aaron Mellette was selected in Round 7. Some analysts believe that the nose-dive on draft weekend stems from Mellette’s level of competition at Elon University when compared to that of the NFL. It’s early but thus far the angular pass catcher seems unaffected by the big lights of pro football in America.
His rookie receiver sidekick Marlon Brown is even more unflappable.
Early on during training camp it was difficult not to notice Brown. His size is striking and his rather effortless gallop separated him from the pack. Yet one question seemed to linger.
“Why did he go undrafted?”
At 6’4”+ Brown provides an inviting target with a wide wingspan and catching radius. He seems equally as comfortable running routes outside the numbers as he does from the slot. He has relatively quick feet for his size and he’s a willing and seemingly capable blocker in support of the running game. He snatches the ball out of the air with sticky hands and looks strong after the catch as a purposeful north and south runner.
He’s not a burner, clocked in the 4.6 40 range. He’s also had a history of injuries during his college days as a Georgia Bulldog including an ACL tear as a senior last November 3 – hence the undrafted status.
But since his arrival in Baltimore, Brown has stepped up to each challenge. He was a long shot to make the roster. He was an even longer shot to see playing time. Now, he looks like a very deserving starter and hardly the starry-eyed prospect you might expect.
For all of the swing and misses in the draft, could it be that a largely forgotten player, Tennessee’s 2008 “Mr. Football”, could emerge from undrafted status and become the best receiver ever discovered by Ozzie Newsome?
Time will tell but so far so good.