Every year, the Baltimore Ravens are in the market for multiple additions and upgrades at the wide receiver position. It has essentially become the norm that the Ravens enter the offseason with holes to fill at wide receiver.
This year, the tradition continues.
There are two certainties at wide receiver heading into next season: Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown. The rest is a jumbled mess, with Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss set to become free agents (Jones unrestricted, Doss restricted) and the retirement of Brandon Stokley.
That leaves the Ravens with only Deonte Thompson from last year’s active roster to complement Smith and Brown once free agency kicks off.
One other receiver is still in the mix, however: Aaron Mellette.
The Elon product and seventh-round pick spent his rookie season on injured reserve, failing to ever take the field in the regular season. Now healthy and ready to compete for a roster spot in 2014, how much can the Ravens rely on Mellette?
Is he the next Tommy Streeter?
Streeter had a similar path as Mellette in Baltimore. As a day three pick (sixth round), Streeter made the team and then was placed on injured reserve for the 2012 season. Entering 2013, the “raw” Streeter failed to make the roster, was released, and never played a single meaningful snap in a Ravens uniform.
The Ravens spent a draft pick on nothing. Will that be the case with Mellette?
Coming out of college, Mellette’s gaudy stats (below) and favorable size (6’3, 217) made him an intriguing prospect.
The Ravens managed to scoop him up in the final round of the draft, getting incredible value. Given the other wide receivers picked in the same round, Mellette still may be the best of the bunch (save maybe Marquess Wilson).
For Baltimore’s sake, Mellette needs to develop into a receiver who can contribute in 2014 for two reasons: cap space and draft picks.
With plenty of players to re-sign and holes to fill in free agency, Baltimore would greatly benefit from as many small contracts on next year’s active roster as possible. The Ravens will already have one minimal contract at wide receiver with Brown slated to make $495,000. Mellette’s 2014 cap hit is set to be just north of $500,000, so the Ravens could be paying two active roster receivers a total of just about $1 million in 2014.
That’s smart business.
Having Mellette develop also aids Baltimore’s draft plans. If the coaching staff has enough confidence in Mellette by May when the draft takes place, the front office may feel less inclined to go all out during the draft to upgrade the group of wide receivers.
That’s not to say the Ravens won’t draft a wide receiver, as it’s a safe bet they will, but they may only feel the need to draft one as opposed to multiple receivers, which is what Baltimore needs at the moment.
Mellette’s 2013 Preseason Production
Mellette is a big-bodied pass catcher who proved during the 2013 preseason that he is willing to use his size to high-point passes. He isn’t a burner as a deep threat, and his after-the-catch ability is average, but he is still a capable component of the offense.
His first catch of the preseason may have been his best, as he went up and got an underthrown pass for a touchdown instead of letting it come to him.
Unlike Streeter, Mellette has relied on his skill set – as opposed to freakish measurables – to get this far. That bodes well for Mellette as he is much more refined but just hasn’t fully proved himself yet.
Entering the 2013 season, the hopes were for Streeter to make the roster and continue his development.
Heading into 2014, the case will be the same for Mellette.
Let’s hope for a better outcome this time around.