Just when we all thought the Ravens were finished with their 2014 draft class, they traded a sixth round pick in 2015 for Cleveland’s seventh round pick this year (pick 218) in order to select Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro.
A local product and River Hill alum, Campanaro was a catch machine (229 career receptions) in Wake Forest’s offense, and is one of the better slot receivers in this year’s draft.
The Ravens hadn’t picked a wide receiver until the selection of Campanaro went through, and perhaps they traded the 2015 pick to ensure Campanaro would be a Raven, as opposed to attempting to wait and see if he’d be available as an undrafted free agent.
Campanaro is a quick, shifty, undersized (5’9) pass catcher who consistently made an impact in college, proving to be explosive after the catch and having the short area quickness to be an effective target in short-to-intermediate routes.
He brings a dynamic the Ravens simply haven’t had in quite some time: a true slot receiver who can do his damage after the catch. If the Ravens model the use of slot receivers in offenses such as New England’s, Campanaro could have success as someone who gets the ball in his hands only a few yards away from the line of scrimmage, then gaining yardage after the catch.
Campanaro is an impressive athlete who could also provide special teams value, primarily in coverage but also as a punt returner if needed.
Coming in as a late-round pick to a crowded crop of wide receivers in Baltimore, Campanaro will have to be valuable on special teams in at least one aspect, otherwise he’ll be buried on the depth chart.
The receiver position for the Ravens is headlined by the core four of Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown, a group that will likely head into training camp as the top four on the depth chart barring any pre-camp signings. After that group, Campanaro will join the likes of Aaron Mellette and Deonte Thompson as the competition for the fifth and sixth receiver spots.
Given Campanaro’s unique dynamic he provides, he has a chance to see some playing time on offense as a rookie, more than that of recent late-round receiver picks by Baltimore such as Mellette and Tommy Streeter, as neither touched the field as a newcomer.
Campanaro also provides a change of pace for quarterback Joe Flacco, who has found success with receivers who can win contested catches when covered, this Demon Deacon is best suited for quick-hitting passing plays where more yards are gained after the catch than through the air.
That’s not to say Campanaro doesn’t adjust to the ball well, as he can make in-air adjustments to complement his quick game.
An intriguing addition to say the least, Campanaro has the skill set to potentially make more of a first-year impact than some recent picks at the position by the Ravens.