Late for Work 2/25: Lombardi: Ravens Have Slowest WRs in NFL

Plus tenders were extended to Ellerbe, Gooden and no replacement for Lewis in the draft.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, February 25th, 2011 at 9:17 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Lombardi: Ravens Have Slowest WRs in NFL

When giving his opinion on some of the AFC North receivers, NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi didn’t mince words.

The former NFL executive declared the Ravens’ outside receivers as some of the slowest in the NFL.

"I think Baltimore desperately needs an outside-of-the-numbers wide receiver.  They might be one of the slowest teams in the league outside," said Lombardi at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Baltimore had a stable of veteran experience last season in Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and T.J. Housmandzadeh, but Lombardi said there were too many inside receivers. The offense had a hard time moving the ball when the receivers couldn’t beat defenders on the outside.

ESPN’s John Clayton shared a similar opinion. “The Professor” feels quarterback Joe Flacco received unfair criticism because he had limited options in the receiving game at times this season.

“There is no speed at the wide receiver position in certain matchups,” said Clayton.  “When they match up against teams that [use] man press with their cornerbacks, then there’s a big problem.  You saw it in the Cincinnati game, the Kansas City game, the Jets game.  All of a sudden, he’s standing back there patting the ball waiting for Todd Heap to get open and for Ray Rice to get into some sort of a checkdown position. There are only a couple of options when that happens.

“There are only three to five matchups a year currently like that, but something has to be added at receiver.”

Head Coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that he wants to get better at the receiver position. But in addition to speed, Harbaugh had other criteria he will be looking for in prospects.

 ”We always want to get better and obviously [to have] a ‘speed receiver,’” Harbaugh said. “But I would like to have just good receivers. To me, what their 40-time is is important, but do they play fast? Are they in and out of breaks quickly? Can they make radius catches? Can they make plays downfield? We’ve got some guys who can do that, but we’re looking to get better, no doubt.”

As Baltimore looks to add to its current crew, Lombardi offered some advice.

“You have to evaluate receivers on if they’re inside or outside. The guys that [the Ravens] have to get need to stretch the field and win one-on-one. That’s hard to find in college football. Who plays press coverage in college? Can they beat the press? Everybody can get open against air."

Ravens Extended Tenders to Ellerbe, Gooden

The Ravens sent restricted tenders to linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Tavares Gooden, according to Aaron Wilson of The National Football Post. Ellerbe received a “low” tender, and Gooden an “original pick” tender.

Of course without a resolved collective bargaining agreement, the tenders could be invalid. According to NFP, multiple teams don’t want to take the risk of losing their players and are issuing restricted free agent tenders.

The NFL Players Association hasn’t said anything about restricted tenders, but they were opposed to teams using franchise tags.

Ellerbe and Gooden are three-year players, so according to ProFootballTalk, they would have received restricted tenders regardless of labor uncertainty.

ProFootballTalk explained the condition of each players’ tender.

“Because Ellerbe was originally undrafted, the Ravens would not receive compensation if another team signed him to an offer sheet, and Baltimore failed to match,” wrote Evan Silva.

“Gooden is highly unlikely to receive interest in restricted free agency at the original pick tender. He was originally a third-round pick, and no team would be willing to give up such a selection for the injury-prone linebacker. Each player’s tender will be worth just over $1 million.”

Harbaugh: No Replacement For Lewis In the Draft

While he is still highly productive and continues to be the unquestioned leader of the Ravens’ defense, analysts believe it’s time for Baltimore to start looking for an heir apparent to linebacker Ray Lewis.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper believes the Ravens need to use this year’s draft to start considering long-term solutions behind the 35 year old.

But Harbaugh said the team is not shopping for Lewis’ successor because, well, there isn’t one.

There’s not going to be a Ray Lewis in the draft in the next year or two,” Harbaugh said on NFL Network. “We won’t be able to replace Ray Lewis.”

“In my opinion he’s the greatest middle linebacker in the history of the game. He’s still playing as well as any middle linebacker in football today. That’s an incredible thing after 15 years in the National Football League. I love him. I want him to play as long as he wants to play, and I think he’ll know when it’s time, but as he has told me before, it’s not time.”

Michigan Paying Greg Mattison $750K, Plus Bonus

Shortly after the end of the 2010 season, former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison surprised Ravens fans by announcing he was leaving Baltimore to take the same position at the University of Michigan.

The Associated Press obtained Mattison’s two-year contract and revealed he will get $750,000 annually with a chance to earn $900,000.

The breakdown is as follows: the base salary is $250,000 and he will make $500,000 in “additional compensation.” If Michigan is the Big Ten champion, Mattison is eligible to make up to $150,000 in bonuses.

 Who Have The Ravens Interviewed?

One of the most important aspects of the combine is team executives’ chance to interview draft prospects.

There’s no telling all the players Ravens brass has and will interview, but Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta said he interviewed at least three offensive linemen yesterday.

Here are some confirmed and some unconfirmed meetings the team held on the first day of the combine, according to various coaches.

Kiper’s No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2011 draft, Colorado’s Nate Solder, said he has not spoken with the Ravens.

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