The Ravens will likely enter the 2011 season with a lot less experience than last year. Attempts to spark the passing offense by signing TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte Stallworth didn’t pan out as hoped. For what they lose in experience they significantly gain from an athleticism standpoint with this group.
Separating from coverage seemed to be a problem last season for the receiving corps and the offense on whole lacked a player that could go up and get the ball last year, save Anquan Boldin. The Ravens could take a page from the Patriots playbook on how they used their young TE’s or from the Packers on how they used their young WR’s. There is a balance between experience and ability, and sometimes you have to go with the least comfortable of the two to reap greater benefits.
Now enter the young Raven pass catchers…
Torrey Smith-58th pick overall in the 2011 NFL Draft
How he can help-Speed, he has top end speed that has to be accounted for when on the field; even if the play isn’t designed for him his speed will open up the short and intermediate areas for others. He’s also is a threat in the return game.
Reminds you of…Johnny Knox of the Chicago Bears-average size and like Smith was a raw route runner coming in but has excellent speed and the ability to separate from coverage
Ed Dickson-70th pick overall in the 2010 NFL Draft
How he can help-Stretch the seams, create matchup problems, manipulate the safeties. He also adds the threat of yards after catch at the position the Ravens haven’t as much in recent years.
Reminds you of…Brent Celek of the Philadelphia Eagles-Dickson is more explosive but he fits the mold of Celek. A non traditional TE, not an inline blocker but understands how to maneuver through intermediate coverage and get open and is a threat to break tackles once he does. Both possess quickness that creates matchup problems.
Tandon Doss-123rd pick overall in the 2011 NFL Draft
How he can help-Complement Smith and Dickson’s game breaking ability by using his savvy and his ability to get open intermediately. He has very good hands and the size to go up and get jump balls. He isn’t a burner but has enough speed to get down field. He can also add depth in the return game.
Reminds you of…Steve Smith of the New York Giants-similar build though Doss is a couple inches taller, both have good but not great speed, good short area burst. Both have a solid understanding of coverage, good balance and soft hands.
David Reed -156th pick overall in the 2010 NFL Draft
How he can help-First and foremost that 29.3 kick return average he delivered before injury needs to carry over. Secondly he needs to win matchups against sub package corners; display the short area burst, toughness and the hands that built his buzz as a practice player.
Reminds you of…Lance Moore of the New Orleans Saints-Moore has great understanding of underneath coverage; he’s tough, has good short area burst and also able to get yards after the catch. Reed shows those same qualities with a bit more deep speed.
Dennis Pitta-114th pick overall in the 2010 NFL Draft
How he can help-Create matchup problems, he’s another non traditional TE, almost a bigger WR. He doesn’t possess the speed Dickson does but he’s a sneaky athlete that has very good ability to find holes in coverage and has a set of really good hands. He’s a chain mover that can become a reliable target on 3rd downs when attention is being drawn to others.
Reminds you of-Dallas Clark of the Indianapolis Colts-Undersized, better underrated athlete, nice body control, quick feet with good hands and understanding on how to separate from coverage.
Not only are these talented players but they complement each other really well. Part of young players’ development is trial and error.
It’s time to let these birds fly!