Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta will breathe a sigh of relief shortly after this season ends, and if everyone is still healthy.
The Ravens finally have a good, young group of receivers and potential No. 1 in rookie Rashod Bateman. This may not sound like a huge achievement for some organizations, but it is in Baltimore.
There have been many disappointments, including first-round failures such as Travis Taylor of Florida in 2000, Mark Clayton of Oklahoma five years later, and Breshad Perriman of Central Florida in 2015. At least Taylor and Clayton were from big time shows, but UCF? Let’s just chalk it up to former Ravens general manager Ozzy Newsom’s bad day.
But that is all in the past.
Bateman can play, as can second-year receivers Devin DuVernay and James Proche II. Marquis Brown is climbing in the middle of his third season and combined with fourth-year tight end Mark Andrews, the Ravens haven’t had a passing game since 1996 and 1997, when they had Michael Jackson, Derrick Alexander and Jermaine. Lewis was.
“It’s fun to see the whole passing game get better,” said Lewis, who played at the University of Maryland and still lives in the Baltimore area. “It takes a while to adjust to an NFL game but in three years, if they stick together, they’re going to be special.”
The Ravens had some good pairings like Clayton and Derrick Mason in the mid-2000s, and the dynamic duo of Anquan Boldin and Mason in 2010. Even though both were in the late stages of their careers, Boldin had 64 catches. 837 yards and seven touchdowns and Mason finished with 61 receptions, 802 yards and seven scores. Both averaged 13.1 yards per catch.
Alexander, Jackson and Lewis are the best trio ever. Lewis was only a rookie in 1996 when Jackson posted career numbers with 76 catches for 1,201 yards. He tied Tony Martin for the most-achieving touchdowns that year with 14. Alexander was just starting to come into his own, catching 62 passes for 1,099 yards and averaging 17.7 yards.
Jackson was 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Alexander was 6-2 and weighed 195, and both could fly. Once former Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda put Lewis in the slot in his second season, some teams matched with the Ravens. In 1997, the trio averaged catches of over 13 yards.
“Of course, I’m biased,” Lewis said, laughing about comparing the current group with his trio. “Michael Jackson Root was one of the best in running. He could break a big corner or a small corner. He was tough. [Alexander] Was also a great root runner and could make a comeback. I was explosive in the middle, and if people had to shake hands after 5 yards like today, I would be even more dangerous. ,
Lewis spends a lot of time teaching high school receivers at Under Armor All-American camps. He’s not quite sure of the Ravens’ talent level yet, which is why DeCosta isn’t ready to hold his breath until the season is over. Bateman had already missed the first five games with a groin injury and Brown, at 5-9 and 180 pounds, has been injury-prone, including missing Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears with a thigh issue. Is.
Bateman is 6-1, weighs 193 pounds and snatches the football out of the air like former Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. He has already shown elusiveness and the ability to get yards after the catch. He can be a possession man – his first 11 catches resulted in a first down – or a game-changer.
Brown has made great progress from a year ago. He continuously catches by spreading his hands and fingers and away from his body. His tread has improved, and while he doesn’t have that great “shake” like Kansas City’s Tyrek Hill, Brown can plant, accelerate, and run away from his burst tacklers. The only downside to Brown (52 catches, 719 yards, two touchdowns) is that he can still be as intimidating as he was last Thursday night when Miami’s defenders were extremely physical.
DuVernay (23 catches, 203 yards, two touchdowns) is slightly bigger and taller than Brown, and just as fast. Like Brown, he can play outside or in the slot and make a lot of mismatches with the No. 3 safari or cornerback in the middle. Prosh hasn’t caught any passes yet, but he has some great hands on the team – which he proved with a big preseason. It will be interesting to see how much game time he can earn in the crowded Ravens receivers room, which also includes Miles Boykin and Sammy Watkins (22 catches, 347 yards). Julian Edelman was with quarterback Tom Brady when both were in New England, he could become an important third-down possession type.
If you combine this group with the continued growth of Andrews (56 catches, 696 yards, four touchdowns) and quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Ravens could be something special. Some tight ends can work in the middle or deep end of the field like Andrews, who signed a $56 million extension before the season. His ability to become a threat from anywhere on the field opens up many potential areas.
Of course, all this progress could be hindered by the Ravens’ offensive line. The pass protection has been poor at times, and all of these weapons are canceled when Jackson doesn’t have time to throw. But it could be the project for the 2022 NFL Draft in April.
Right now, the Ravens need some time and space to grow.
“Hollywood has good legs, good routes and this year coming back and attacking the ball is one of the hardest things to learn,” Lewis said. “With his pace, he’s able to push deep down a defensive back, then back on the ball, allowing him to be so isolated. DuVernay? Anyone who can return and lead the NFL.” Maybe, you know I like them. I’d like to see a little more explosion out of Bateman, but he’s got a great feel for the game. Plus, he’s a step slower around that pace with Hollywood and DuVernay is going to be visible.
“There’s still a lot to be determined and we’ll see how this formula goes, but they’re going to get better at it. It may all come together this year. They’re still young, and I’m not going to confuse them.” Wanted, but they can become a big problem for many teams.”