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The Ravens said they wanted to continue upgrading their weapons around quarterback Joe Flacco this offseason, and that’s exactly what they did by taking two receivers in the draft.
Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason combined for over 1,600 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.
Now, with rookies Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss entering the fold, the Ravens should be well equipped to take advantage of Flacco’s strong right arm.
Here is a look at how the wide receiver position looks like now, post-draft:
What We Know…
Boldin and Mason will be back.
Boldin, the Ravens’ marquee acquisition last offseason, delivered with a team-leading 64 grabs for 837 yards and seven scores. And, Mason was typically reliable, even if he uncharacteristically did not surpass the 1,000-yard mark (802 receiving yards).
Both veterans can be expected to continue their productive streak in 2011.
Behind Boldin and Mason, second-year wideout David Reed showed flashes of playmaking ability in practices.
The Ravens also are expected to allow T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth’s one-year contracts expire, which will allow them to hit the open market once free agency begins. When that happens, Houshmandzadeh and Stallworth would have the ability to sign with any team.
What We Don’t Know…
The Ravens might have replenished their receiving corps with their second- and fourth-round draft picks, but it is unknown whether Smith and Doss can immediately contribute.
While there is a lot of potential with the speedy Smith and gritty Doss, rookie receivers don’t have a history of major output in their rookie seasons.
Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome believes that Smith will eventually be a dangerous deep threat and Doss will muck out the tough yards over the middle. The question is when.
The Ravens don’t know what they have in James Hardy, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament as a rookie in 2008. Hardy actually hasn’t been on a team since he was cut by the Buffalo Bills early last season.
At 6-foot-5, Hardy has ideal size but must show he is healthy and can produce.
Brandon Jones is another player who has been out of football for an extended period, having been cut by the Seattle Seahawks before the 2010 campaign.
Reed, Marcus Smith and Justin Harper are all key special teams guys, but none of them has seen much playing time at receiver.
The collective lack of experience on offense for that trio, combined with Jones’ extended absence from the game, makes it difficult to forecast their impact.
In addition to those already on the roster, the Ravens could pursue other available free agents, whether that is Houshmandzadeh or Stallworth or an unfamiliar face.
The Ravens will probably move forward with five or six receivers on their roster. So, the competition will be fierce to make that final list.