Which WR Stud Should Baltimore Gift Lamar with?
By: Tayyib Abu (Twitter: @TayyibAbu1)
The Baltimore Ravens endured a strange 2020 season. They came into the season as the favorites in the AFC; they didn’t even make it to the AFC Championship game. That is not good enough after Baltimore got bounced out by the Titans in 2019. The Ravens’ struggles came on their Jekyll and Hyde offense. Baltimore led the league in rushing yards; however, they finished last in passing yards. The Ravens run-first game has proven to be good enough in the regular season; sadly it’s come up short in the postseason. The Ravens are too predictable, that is a problem when they play top teams in the playoffs.
One of the biggest reasons for that is the lack of a functioning passing-game. The Ravens don’t own an elite number one receiver. Myles Boykin, Hollywood Brown, and Willie Snead are all small-bodied guys who struggle to catch in contested windows. That trio also lacks top route-running skills to get separation. Lamar Jackson is not a confident tight-window thrower; therefore, he feels he must throw conservatively. It’s also why Jackson loves to throw to his safety blanket in Mark Andrews. The big tight-end led the Ravens in receptions, despite playing 14 games. If Baltimore is to be successful in the playoffs, they need to sign a top number one receiver. Here are five that they should target.
Allen Robinson is now a free agent; the former Jaguars wideout is free to negotiate with teams. He enjoyed one of the best seasons in his career, as he tallied 102 receptions for 1250 yards. Robinson emerged into an elite wideout in 2020. His Next-Gen passing charts show that he can run any route out of any alignment. The Ravens lack an elite outside-the-numbers receiver, Robinson is that guy. As he lines up on the outside, Robinson’s smooth route-running style allows him to run all over the field. That can provide diversity to the Baltimore attack. Using Robinson all over the area, it will give more opportunities to use Brown and Snead creatively. Baltimore could use Brown’s speed in the slot, or line him up on the weak-side and drag him across the field.
The other positive to signing Robinson is that he is a brilliant catcher in traffic, that is a massive boost for a young quarterback. Add that to his skill at grabbing contested-balls, Robinson is well worth a look for Baltimore.
Like Robinson, Golladay is a free agent as well. With Detroit moving on from quarterback Matthew Stafford, it seems as if they’re heading towards a full-blown rebuild. Keeping Golladay seems like a moot move for Detroit. Baltimore should heavily consider bringing him in. Golladay is similar to Dez Bryant in his prime; the Northern Illinois man makes many contested catches. He is arguably the best in the NFL. His big-frame paired with a good catch radius made him Stafford’s favourite deep-ball threat. Golladay isn’t the speediest of wideouts; nevertheless, he makes up for that, with absurd physicality and elite route-running. Stafford’s safety blanket was on third-down to Golladay, mainly because he beats so many cornerbacks at the catch point.
The other advantage he brings Baltimore is his size, Golladay is a big receiver. That size is something Baltimore currently lacks in its receiver room. Due to his fantastic route-running ability, Golladay can line up all over the field. He is not just a perimeter pass-catcher. If Baltimore could pair Golladay with Mark Andrews, they would own a physical advantage at the line of scrimmage. It can also create space for their quicker receivers. The main concern with Golladay is his injury history. Due to his physical play and catching so many contested balls, he takes many big hits during a game. Golladay has played a full season in his career once; that is a concern. Nevertheless, suppose Baltimore wants to add a vertical threat to its passing game. In that case, Golladay is their man; he takes the pressure off Lamar Jackson because he grabs so many passes, Golladay can unlock Lamar Jackson’s deep-ball.
Unlike Golladay, Godwin brings world-class speed at the receiver position. His 40 time of 4.42 seconds is absurd. Godwin is also different in his build compared to Robinson and Golladay. The Bucs wideout is a rangy, wiry build, that allows him to excel on deep-passes behind a defensive back. The other element that Godwin owns is superb footwork, he breaks, cuts and stops magnificently well. When he performs a double move at the line of scrimmage, he beats his man a lot. Once he wins against the defender, his speed means players won’t catch him. Godwin’s skill at beating defenders marks him out as different from other wideouts. So many NFL offenses want to use double-moves or pivot moves to shift defenders; Godwin is one of the best at doing it.
With Godwin, Baltimore would get a speedster who adds another layer to the offense. Godwin primarily lines up on the outside, however from that position he can run any route. He isn’t just a sideline catcher; his elite footwork means he should excel in the short-passing game as well. In-breaking patterns into space are particular passing plays that Baltimore could use with him. Baltimore could even design it out of RPO where Jackson holds the ball and throws a quick dart to Godwin on a slant pattern. Godwin doesn’t necessarily bring anything different to Baltimore; he just does everything better than their current receivers. Furthermore, Godwin isn’t a one-trick pony; he can be the Ravens offence’s swiss-army knife.
Now, this would be controversial, however money talks in the business that is the NFL. Ignore the sideshow with Smith-Schuster; he is an excellent wide receiver. Smith-Schuster is a do-it-all wideout; in Baseball parlance, he is a five-tool-player. I wouldn’t say he is exceptional at one specific skill; he is just terrific in all departments; what Smith-Schuster provides is excellent catching, great in-game awareness, and toughness to grab a contested ball. And he excels in the short-passing game. Baltimore will always be a run-first team, however when they decide to pass, seldom does Jackson throw deep.
With Smith-Schuster they need not worry about the deep ball, Pittsburgh in 2020 ran a short-passing game, his numbers were still substantial, with no deep-threat. Smith-Schuster can provide some cunning to the passing game.
Yes, with the sideshow, he can be a distraction; on the other hand, he is a smart wideout that understands his roles. Pair that with good one-on-one skills and a hunger to be the best, he could get a phone call from the Ravens’ front office this offseason.
Allen Lazard is somewhat of a wildcard in this list; although you break it down, it makes some sense. Lazard’s build is a hybrid between tight-end and wide receiver. He presents a different style to the other Baltimore wideouts, they are small, slot-receiver guys. Lazard is nothing like them; the big-bodied Packer plays with a physical edge. Baltimore needs that in their passing game, Lazard almost always lines up in-field. That can create matchup problems with the slot corner or the weak-side linebacker.
One of the significant issues the Ravens offense must solve is predictability; there is no point of difference. Lazard can help solve that, a big man provides flexibility in terms of personnel and formations. Therefore it becomes more challenging for the defense to manage. Lazard is an excellent across-the-field runner; he can become another safety blanket while also creating space for Hollywood Brown or Willie Snead. NFL offenses choreograph so much in today’s game; the advantage comes from creating mismatches with designed plays. Baltimore does that excellently in the run-game; a player like Lazard can assist in bringing that to the passing game.