Many Ravens fans have begun to panic after the loss of Torrey Smith. The Ravens wide receiving core has never been a huge strength in their 19-year time in the NFL. I advise fans not to panic, games are not won and lost in March. The Ravens have plenty of time to sign players and also look to the draft in a loaded wide receiver draft class. Also there are current players on the roster that can most certainly get the job done. The underdog guys, the ones that never get any publicity. I’m talking about Marlon Brown and Michael Campanaro.
Let’s start with Marlon Brown. He is a fantastic story, from the University of Georgia. Brown was not drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft, but the Ravens saw his potential and gave him chance by signing him on April 28th, 2013. In 2013, the Ravens used him very effectively as a red zone target and never saw him having the quality rookie season he produced.
Unexpectedly, Brown tied the all-time Ravens rookie receiving touchdown record with seven touchdowns in 2013. He was underutilized in the 2014, mainly due to the arrival of Owen Daniels and Steve Smith; but I look for him to have a stronger role in 2015, even if the Ravens sign or draft another wide receiver. Brown is a huge target, listed at 6’5 and 214 pounds. I believe the new Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman will utilize Marlon Brown to his full potential because of his previous experiences with tall receivers.
A more wild card player that I believe will have a very successful 2015 campaign is Michael Campanaro. I think he will be a nice complimenting receiver as well as a solid returner for the Ravens this upcoming season.
He was sidelined for the majority of the 2014 season with a lingering hamstring injury, but he showed very promising signs in Week 6 in a thumping of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he had a beautiful, contested 19-yard touchdown reception. He is the opposite of Marlon Brown physically. Campanaro is listed at 5’9 and 185 pounds. I really like Campanaro on third down situations, where he demonstrated good hands and the ability to find space to get the first down.
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Trestman can use him in the slot and use his speed to get separation and be a versatile third down threat along with being a dangerous returner.
Two other guys who both emerged late in the season and are worth noting are Crockett Gillmore and Kamar Aiken. Both Aiken and Gillmore had a huge impact in both of the Ravens’ playoff games this past season. In each they combined for four catches, 53 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens definitely need to look for wide receiver options in free agency and the 2015 NFL Draft, but let’s not forget the talent that is already on the roster. NFL teams win in April through the players that have been drafted year after year, not in the free agency frenzy of March.