Trying to Arrange the Ravens Receivers
Another year, another revamped receiving group here in Baltimore. Seems to be a recurring theme but investing in the position through the draft means if all goes well, the turnover should be minimal going forward. They have two rookies on board for up to the next four years at controlled costs.
Projected depth chart:
WR1: Marquise Brown*, Michael Floyd
WR2: Chris Moore, Miles Boykin*
Slot: Willie Snead, Seth Roberts
Bubble: Jaleel Scott, Jordan Lasley, Quincy Adeboyejo
Longshot: Joe Horn Jr**, Sean Modster**, Jaylen Smith**, Antonie Wesley**
*Rookie **Undrafted Rookie
It will be interesting to see how Marquise Brown handles himself as the “X” or “Z” receiver split out wide given his listed height of 5’9”. On the surface, you have to think the slot belongs to Willie Snead and Seth Roberts. Snead ran 82.6% of his snaps from the slot last year. In Oakland, Seth Roberts lined up in the slot 76.7% of the time. In college, Marquise Brown only ran 23% of his snaps from the slot. Chris Moore at 31.4%, Michael Floyd at 35.9% in Washington. Miles Boykin at Notre Dame, of his 435 snaps last year, didn’t even line up in the slot enough to qualify for listing.
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One thing I’ll be looking at is how creative the Ravens get in using Marquise Brown. Traditional roles like “X” and “Z” might not apply to him at the NFL level. His college tape shows that contested catches are not his strong point. That won’t all of sudden come around, just from a physics standpoint. Looking at the division rivals’ cornerbacks, the Bengals Dre Kirkpatrick is 6’2”. Browns rookie and likely starting CB, Greedy Williams, is 6’2”. The Steelers might offer opportunities for Brown to win one-on-one in a more traditional role as Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, and Artie Burns are all under six feet. Though taller than 5’9”.
Then again, the slot may be where Brown makes the most sense, most often. Granted, only one team (Kansas State) seems to play anything resembling defense in the Big 12. But of the draftable wide receivers in this past class, Brown had a staggering 7.85 yards per route run from a slot position. Hakeem Butler from Iowa State was second best with an impressive 5.21 YPRR. West Virginia’s David Sills was 27th in the category at 2.44 and was the next Big 12 guy on the list. Overall, Brown was fourth best among the draftable guys with 3.56 YPRR.
If we’re talking size, it makes sense this summer in camp to see if Seth Roberts can play the outside role, listed at 6’2”, would be less of a mismatch than Brown, or Willie Snead at 5’11”. As you’ll see on the following chart, Roberts saw a higher percentage of targets when he was split wide then when he was in the slot position.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out as the season goes by. Make a similar chart after four games or so, eight, end of the year, and see where guys are having success.
We’ve seen in college that Brown is a player you want to get the ball in his hands anyway you can and let his speed do the rest. No telling how that translates to the pro-game yet though.
After breaking it down, I have to wonder if other teams have the same makeup. Or should I say teams without elite receiving talent. Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, those guys line up anywhere and create their own mismatch. It makes sense that receivers would have better efficiency in the slot. More likely to face softer coverage. More likely to face a linebacker in a mismatch. More likely not to face the defenses best defensive back.
I will say I expect the efficiency to go up this year, even without proven elite receiving talent. I’ve pointed out in the past how Greg Roman has run above average passing efficient offenses, even if the counting stats aren’t, say, “fantasy football” relevant. You want to see someone on this team with yards per route run well over 2.0. below 1.0 is just not cutting it. Figure that the passing game under Marty Mornhinweg was one of the leagues least inefficient for a few years. Seth Roberts comes from a team that clearly was setting up for a fresh start in Las Vegas and traded their top receiver, Amari Cooper, mid-season. Michael Floyd wasn’t a huge part of the Redskins offense, but they crashed and burned when Alex Smith went down for the season.
Should be interesting to see how the Ravens sort this out. Someone has to run routes split out wide. Does Miles Boykin who is 6’4” and operated out wide in college step in as a rookie and take hold of the “X” right out of the gate? If not him, then who?
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]