Positional Previews: Wide Receiver Baltimore Ravens/Shawn Hubbard

Camp Notes Positional Previews: Wide Receiver

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For the second straight year, the Ravens did away with unproductive veteran receivers. Two years ago, Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace walked out the door, making room for John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead. Now Chris Moore is the only holdover from that 2017 unit, and Snead is the last man standing from the 2018 unit.

Projected WRs

WR1: Willie Snead

WR2: Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (Barring Setback)

WR3: Miles Boykin

WR4: Chris Moore

WR5: Jaylen Smith

The Rookies

The Ravens and new General Manager Eric DeCosta decided the answer to their woes was to get younger, and so they did by adding a pair of pass catchers in the draft, former Oklahoma standout Marquise Brown and former Notre Dame wideout Miles Boykin.

Brown was a superb talent at Oklahoma, catching passes from two consecutive Heisman-winning quarterbacks and first overall selections in the NFL Draft, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Hollywood tallied more than 1,000 yards in both of his seasons at Oklahoma, coming in 9th and 6th in receiving yards in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Currently he is recovering from a Lisfranc injury to his left foot. He was placed on the NFI (Non-Football Injury) list today as he continues to work his way back from surgery.

Brown is FAST, like REALLY FAST. He didn’t have a chance to show it at the NFL Scouting Combine due to his foot, but last offseason at Oklahoma, he’s on record with a 4.30 time in the 40-yard dash – not too shabby. Though it isn’t just his straight-line speed that enamored the Ravens on draft day, it was his route running ability and his knack for making defenders miss like a bull running at a talented matador. When Brown comes back, his presence will certainly be felt as he takes the field with the third Heisman winner he’s played with.

Miles Boykin is an athletic freak. Standing at 6’4” with an official combine 40 time of 4.42, Boykin is a perfect complement to the short and shifty Brown. Boykin was never the guy to put up huge receiving numbers, but that didn’t stop him from working his magic last season in the red zone. After seeing limited snaps in his first three years at Notre Dame, Boykin broke out with 872 yards and eight touchdowns. Boykin has the useful ability to “climb the ladder” and out-muscle defenders which is great for sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson, especially if he finds himself in trouble, which he may if the offensive line doesn’t coalesce properly (as I alluded to in that position breakdown).

Jaylen Smith is on this list for one reason: familiarity. You may not know who Smith is, but I’m talking about his familiarity with Jackson. Smith went undrafted out of Louisville, but was literally on the receiving end of countless Lamar Jackson highlight throws. His best season came in Jackson’s junior year where he amassed 980 yards and seven touchdowns. Smith may not be the most talented receiving option, but his chemistry and familiarity with the incumbent quarterback makes him worth a look.

The Veterans

Willie Snead might have the best hands on the team, which is why he’s penciled in as my WR1 for right now. Prior to Jackson taking over under center midway through last season, it seemed that the go-to receiver was going to be John Brown, now with the Buffalo Bills. After Jackson took over, Snead saw a jump in his targets, quickly becoming the favorite of the young quarterback. Snead finished the season with 62 receptions, exactly 20 more than Brown, though Brown still had 64 more yards. Snead is still going to be the go-to in the slot, especially early on while Brown continues to get back into game shape.

Chris Moore has had so many chances, but has yet to make any substantial impact in a game that the Ravens would go on to win. My memory of him that lingers is the dropped pass in the 2017 Week 17 game against the Bengals that resulted in a pick six, and I’m still not over it. There are plenty of apologists out there for Moore, thinking that he’s got untapped potential. I personally think it’s a bunch of hooey to think that a guy with 490 career receiving yards, 196 of them coming last year, is going to be a game changer for the Baltimore Ravens. I hope I’m wrong; I’d love to see him succeed, but I just don’t understand the hype. He’s here because the coaching staff loves his attitude.

Chibs is gonna hate me for that one.

Overview

Believe it or not, in my opinion the Ravens are the strongest they’ve been at the wide receiver position in years. There are diverse, talented options for Lamar Jackson to choose from, and that’s not even including the absolutely stacked TE group. Barring injuries or setbacks to already injured players, receivers will be given the chance to shine in a play-action and misdirection-heavy offense designed to take advantage of a stacked box.

Next up, cornerbacks.

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