Many thought Ozzie Newsome had lost his mind when he traded Anquan Boldin — the Baltimore Ravens‘ best and most reliable wide receiver — to the San Francisco 49ers barely a month after he helped them win Super Bowl XLVII. Boldin had been Joe Flacco‘s security blanket throughout the playoffs, making incredible catch after incredible catch.
Fast forward four months and Boldin’s shoes remain on the field, waiting to be filled. Torrey Smith is slated to become Baltimore’s new No. 1 receiver, but the pecking order amongst wide receivers becomes hazy behind him. By now, everybody’s read about the receiver battle and the group of young receivers striving to prove their worth.
Jacoby Jones has the most experience, but he seems better suited as a third option and a kick returner. Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, David Reed, Laquan Williams and Aaron Mellette are all exciting prospects, but all of them are inexperienced and unproven.
Who wins the No. 2 spot is largely irrelevant, though, since it’s unlikely he will be leaned on as heavily as Smith was when he became the No. 2 in 2011. Tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson have emerged as reliable targets, and will naturally adopt more of the workload. Ray Rice has always been a solid receiver as well, racking up 311 receptions for 2,713 yards over the past five years.
Rookie H-back/fullback Kyle Juszczyk led Harvard in receiving yards (706) and the Ivy League in touchdowns (eight) in 2012. It’s a decent bet he will see some passes headed his way, as well.
Now, I’m not saying the No. 2 receiver can’t make a significant impact on the Ravens’ passing game. All of the aforementioned receivers have big upsides that can prove valuable. Doss is known for his big frame and tough hands. Thompson is rumored to be the fastest man on the roster. Reed is said to be the most explosive after the catch. Mellette is seen as a potential possession receiver. It’s certainly possible that one of these guys breaks out in 2013 and takes the NFL by storm.
It will be interesting to watch the receiver battle continue to unfold in Baltimore for the next month or so, especially with exciting prospects in many of the young receivers. It will also prove important for the future, as both Pitta and Dickson enter their final year of their respective rookie contracts. For now, however, the battle for the No. 2 title has less of an impact on the forthcoming season than many make it out to be.