Baltimore Ravens Receiving Corp Being Underestimated Heading into 2021

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In the 2020 NFL Season, the Baltimore Ravens passing offense ranked bottom in the league. On the other hand, their rushing attack ranked number one. This unbalanced offense led to a lot of criticism from the media. Some criticized the quarterback, Lamar Jackson, for his inconsistency as a pocket passer. Though this is a somewhat legitimate concern, the receiving corp caused most of the issues last season. However, this season, the Ravens have drastically improved their receiving corps, and it seems to have gone unnoticed by the media.

Baltimore Ravens Improve Receiving Corp Throughout 2021 Offseason

2020 Ravens Receiving Corp

In 2020, the Ravens’ leading receiver was Marquise Brown, with 769 passing yards. He was followed by the tight end Mark Andrews, who had 701. This is by no means ideal, and clearly reflects the ranking of being bottom in the league in that area. Marquise Brown was the Ravens’ top receiver on the depth chart. Although Brown is an extremely talented player, the best role for his skill set as a smaller, quicker receiver would be to play as a slot receiver. In spite of this, Brown was forced to play on the outside due to a lack of outside receivers rostered. Brown was followed on the depth chart by Willie Snead, a good blocking receiver but did not bring any special talent to the table whatsoever.

This lack of quality, number 1 outside receiver caused the Ravens offense to lack the balance it needed to truly contend for a championship. Lamar Jackson struggled as a passer, partially because he is an inconsistent passer, but also in most part due to the personnel surrounding him. It also caused the Ravens to struggle late in close games, such as in Week 8 against Pittsburgh.

2021 Additions

Although it may not seem like much, the Ravens only made two significant additions to their receiving corp this year. However, these moves were excellent moves and brought exactly what they needed to the table. First and foremost, the Ravens selected Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman 27th overall in the draft. This was an excellent, situation-aware selection by the Ravens front office. They knew that they needed a receiver who can win consistently on the outside, and that is exactly what Bateman brings to the table. He is a tall, dominant receiver with sure hands and exceptional route-running ability. Bateman’s skill set is exactly what the Ravens needed offensively.

In addition, the Ravens signed Sammy Watkins in free agency. Although Watkins has dealt with injuries throughout his career, he is by no means a poor receiver. When healthy, Watkins has been an excellent playmaker at the receiver position, and can definitely be a huge role player in the Ravens offense. He also brings plenty of experience to the Ravens’ receiver room, something they lacked greatly last season, as most of their receivers were young inexperienced players.

Effect on Returning Ravens Receivers

The Ravens knew they had to build the passing offense around Lamar Jackson, and they did exactly that this offseason. The addition of Rashod Bateman brought a true “X” receiver to the table, and the addition of Sammy Watkins brought athleticism and experience to the table. However, it’s not just about those additions. These additions will also greatly affect the receivers that the Ravens already had. Marquise Brown is an excellent talent at the receiver position but struggled as the team’s number 1 receiver. However, now that he has the opportunity to play in a slot role that better suits him, he should begin to show off the talent we all well know he has.

In addition, the Ravens now have some talented players as depth at the receiver position. Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Miles Boykin are three very talented receivers who are now considered some depth at the position for Baltimore. Duvernay is an incredibly talented player, showing flashes last year. Proche has very good hands and also starts as a punt returner on special teams. Finally, Boykin is a tall, physical receiver who has disappointed thus far in his career but has potential nonetheless.

Bottom Line

If Lamar Jackson can take a step forward this season as a passer, we could see some huge things from this offense. With Greg Roman still leading the all-time record-breaking run game, and now with all this excellent personnel at the receiver position, don’t sleep on the Ravens offense. It will be electric, dynamic, and no longer an unbalanced offense.

It will be beyond interesting to see how the competition in the AFC North will fare in the 2021-2022 NFL Season.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images