The Baltimore Ravens made some big time moves on the defensive ball this offseason.
Former Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson was signed. He will pair up to make a formidable duo with the likes of Eric Weddle, who was graded as the top safety by Pro Football Focus. In a corresponding move, the Ravens also let go of safety Lardarius Webb. However, they weren’t done yet.
Baltimore re-signed the big run-stopping nose tackle Brandon Williams and signed former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr. Carr will play alongside second-year man Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith.
Each move plugged a significant hole on the defensive side of the ball for Baltimore. Although, the defense was addressed, the offense was neglected.
Wide receiver Steve Smith retired. Rick Wagner went to the Detroit Lions. Jeremy Zuttah was released. Backups offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse (Buffalo Bills) and wide receiver Kamar Aiken (Indianapolis Colts) left in free agency.
It’s safe to say that Baltimore has gaping holes on the offensive side of the ball, the largest being the offensive line and wide receiver positions. So what should they do to address their ailments in the draft with the number 16 pick?
There is a receiver that has constantly been projected to go to Baltimore. His name is Corey Davis from Western Michigan. Davis has high-end speed, he goes for balls at the point of attack and he’s a bigger receiver. Is he as physical as Mike Williams, no, but he has better separation.
He also has the hands to make incredible catches, something that could aid Joe Flacco in the deep game.
His strengths and weaknesses are listed as such on NFL.com by Lance Zierlein:
Outstanding four-year production. Alpha attitude on the field and not afraid to take on the challenge of heavy target load. Excellent competitiveness. Focuses like a laser when ball is in the air. Tracks the deep ball as well as anyone in college and understands how to stack cornerbacks and keep them on his hip. Has second gear to run under the long ball. Excels in intermediate and deep parts of the field. Route running showed improvement in 2016. Variable route speed creates indecision for defenders. Vertical routes are crisp and create tilt in off-corners and safeties that he is quick to take advantage of. Play speed features access to functional burst. Can defeat inside leverage. A quarterback’s friend who works aggressively back to the ball. Dominates in red zone. High-point catcher who uses well-timed leaps and long arms to win the 50-50 throws. Increases physicality and acceleration out of routes when operating near paydirt. WEAKNESSES Doesn’t always sell his vertical routes aggressively enough to make cornerbacks open their hips. Drifts, at times, on in-breaking routes, allowing defenders to squeeze the route. Needs to improve quickness into and out of his breaks underneath. Elongated into breaks when working from slot. Has had some issues with focus drops on throws outside of his frame. Had 16 drops over last three years at Western. Free releases into his routes in college will turn into stern press challenges in the pros. Wasn’t asked to do much meaningful blocking.
Outstanding, proportional frame with combination of thickness and athleticism. Fires into his target with a forceful pop generating early power and push. Can uproot defender and turn him out of hole as a drive blocker. Able to respond to power with power. Can work seamlessly from block to block in combos. Works and climbs to second level with controlled, stalking footwork. Has initial quickness to pull and land on defenders in space. Athletic enough to slide over and catch inside challenges. Usually works feet into position pre-contact in run game. Good length and gets adequate extension in his punch. Kick slide generally balanced and gains necessary ground to the edge. Has feet necessary to mirror edge speed and flatten them over rush arc. Glass-eater who fights hard to the whistle.
Balance issues a concern. Struggles with active, high-motor defenders. At times he ducks head into his run blocks, losing sight of a moving target. Narrow in-line power base due to lack of bend and excessive leaning. Weight creeps too far past his feet in both run and pass blocks. Inconsistent sustaining his block. On the ground substantially more than a tackle should be. Has to learn to run his feet under him at contact. Can improve as move blocker with better angles. Feet go dead when punching from shallow pass set. Gets caught punching from balls of his feet and without much bend allowing speed-to-power rushers to heat him up. Questionable instincts. On twists, dives down with defensive ends and will miss loopers around edge.
Although Robinson would solidify the Ravens’ offensive line that was plagued by injuries last season, Davis gives the Ravens something that they’ve never had before:
The ability to develop into an elite receiver.
Baltimore has missed on tons of receivers in the past. The Ravens even bombed a few picks with the likes of Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton. They even had a chance to get Dez Bryant, but they waited around too long and refused to trade up to get him. Apparently, they also had a chance to get Julio Jones, but they passed up on the opportunity to trade up.
This time, they have a receiver that can be elite and may fall into their lap. They cannot pass up this chance to become a dynamic offense. So, they must pick Davis if they want to get out of the NFL’s cellar of offenses.