The recent injury to Dennis Pitta is devastating in a lot of ways. Not only was he coming off of a 60+ reception season where he was often the go-to guy in the red zone for Joe Flacco, but Pitta was also expected by many to pick up a lot of the targets that went to Anquan Boldin last year. Now, it will be up to Ed Dickson to fill the void left by Dennis Pitta. I don’t know about you guys, but Ed Dickson kind of scares the you-know-what out of me.
Dickson is an outstanding athlete; he’s got excellent size, quickness and nice vertical speed. His best season was in 2011 when he hauled in 54 receptions and five TDs, so clearly the guy can be an effective receiver. One play that constantly comes to mind was when the Saints were visiting and he caught a pass down the seam and barreled over a Saints defender on his way to a TD.
Dickson, for whatever reason, has a knack for making those tough, contested receptions. What scares me are the routine catches that hit him right in the hands or chest and he drops. There are a lot of different variables as to why Dickson has had issues with dropping those routine catches, but ultimately it seems like they are mostly due to a lack of focus on making the catch. That can be coached, but it still is scary to think about when Joe is looking for someone to throw it to in Pittsburgh on a critical third down and Dickson is the primary target.
Now, let’s assume that Dickson has a monster year. Who do the Ravens re-sign? Both? They may not have the cap space to do that and will likely have their hands full figuring out how to handle the contracts of Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs, both of which will be very costly next year.
Frankly, I think that Pitta would probably be the one to be re-signed since he has been the more consistent player, but his injury history could play into this and if Dickson has a stellar season then he could be looked at as the better investment since he is two years younger than Pitta. Either way, the Ravens will likely have to choose one or the other and that is why I think that they’ll have to tailor their draft next year to looking at a tight end early, possibly even in Round 1.
Here are some guys they could look at:
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington, 6’6” 255lbs.
“ASJ” is super athletic and is a natural receiver. He is also a decent blocker. He has character concerns though as he was arrested for a DUI in April of this year. Still, no one can discount his ability on the field. The Ravens have taken chances on guys who have made mistakes (Jimmy Smith) and – hopefully – learned from them in the past.
CJ Fiedorowicz, Iowa, 6’7” 265lbs.
I really like what CJ brings to the table as an all-around tight end. He is an accomplished blocker and he can run for his size. Nice hands as well with a large catch radius. I think he is a borderline 2nd/3rd round pick right now, but if he puts up Rob Gronkowski-type numbers I could see him in Round 1. He is my favorite tight end prospect in next year’s draft right now and I have written about him in previous Russell Street Report blogs. Additionally, the Ravens have a connection with Iowa Head Coach, Kirk Ferentz, so they will probably have a very good idea of the type of player CJ could be in the NFL.
Colt Lyerla, Oregon, 6’5” 240lbs.
I like this kid a lot too and he may have the most upside out of any of the tight ends in the 2014 class. He will only be 21 years old by the time the draft rolls around and he could wind up being the first tight end off the board. He is an outstanding receiver and has big play capability. However, he is not used as a blocker at Oregon, so that may be something he has to really work on at the pro level.