Size DOES Matter: Ravens Revamp WR Core

In the 2002 season, the Ravens receiving core was known to be smallish, inept, and lacking in size to consistently defeat the jam by opposing defensive backs at the line of scrimmage. <br><br> This in turn disrupted a timing offense where the receiver was expected to be at a certain spot on the field in a certain amount of time to catch passes from the quarterback under center.

The Ravens in turn were unable to achieve consistency in the passing game beyond Pro-Bowl TE Todd Heap. But since he possessed the most consistent play-making ability of all of the Ravens receivers, he usually found himself double and sometimes triple-teamed in the process. 

This off-season it is evident that the Ravens decided to do something about it. The shrewd moves that they have displayed this off-season in addressing their WR issues have come full circle and now the outlook is very positive that this upcoming season they will field a bigger and better core of receivers that bears no resemblance of season's past. 

It all started earlier in the off-season when the Ravens allowed the talented but oft-injured receiver Brandon Stokely his leave to eventually join the Indianapolis Colts. This defined a definite need for them to acquire more receiver talent if they wished to remain competitive in the upcoming 2003-2004 season. 

Their first step in this process was acquiring the sure-handed and underrated WR Frank Sanders formerly of the Arizona Cardinals. After their aspirations of landing WR David Boston fell short when he signed with the San Diego Chargers before ever setting foot on Ravens soil, Sanders was the second choice on a short list of receivers the Ravens were interested in.

The addition of Sanders was a good one, but the Ravens were still a bit short on proven WR's on their roster with only receiver Travis Taylor possessing any consistent game experience. 

It was widely determined that the Raven would add a receiver through the 2003 NFL draft which would round out their depth chart. But circumstances didn't allow them to draft a receiver who'd provide an appreciable upgrade to what they already had on their roster so they eventually passed on that idea.

Finally, after much deliberation between club and player, the Bears release the angular deep-threat WR named Marcus Robinson into free agency, who in turn offered another veteran receiver to the free agent market whom the Ravens would have interest in to round out their receiving core. 

But Robinson did not come without concerns. His last productive season was in 1999 when he was a Pro-Bowl alternate for the Bears when he had a breakout season netting 1,400 yards receiving, 9 touchdowns and 84 catches which was second in the NFC at the time. Since then he'd battled unfortunate injuries that have curtailed his career up until last season, but by then the Bears had already assembled their receiving core and no longer needed his services. 

What Robinson brings to the table is a reliable vertical deep threat who's athleticism and leaping ability makes him a dangerous weapon for any offense who likes to throw the deep ball. It is also one of the main intangibles that the Ravens were missing to complete their offensive attack at the wide receiver position. 

With the probable addition of Robinson, the Raven may have considerably improved the size and explosiveness of their WR core which in turn they hope will translate to more big plays in their passing game. 

With WR Frank Sanders being considered a more dangerous weapon in the slot, Robinson could potentially compete for a starting spot as either the #2 or possibly the #1 receiver spot on an otherwise lackluster receiving squad. 

Frank Sanders is a 6`2, 215 pound receiver who is known for having reliable hands and possessing clutch receiving skills and veteran savvy. His presence will allow the Ravens to utilize his talents as he'll be moved around all over the field to give the Ravens favorable match-ups against opposing team's third defensive backs and/or safeties. 

Travis Taylor at 6`1, 212 pounds is the Ravens 10th overall draft choice in 2000 who possesses fluidity and athleticism that makes him a dangerous threat running after the catch. He should be playing on the outside and give the Ravens a receiver who simply reeks with big-play potential and should have a better chance at cracking the 1,000 yard mark with proven veterans surrounding him and taking pressure off of his side of the field. 

And last but not least WR Marcus Robinson at 6`3, 222 pounds is a big, physical vertical threat of a receiver if he can return to his 1999 form and put in the past the injuries he suffered years prior. His sure hands and great leaping ability will help improve the Ravens deep passing game by leaps and bounds. 

And that doesn't even include the Ravens Pro-Bowl TE Todd Heap at 6`5, 252 pounds who's proven time and again that he's one of the most dangerous pass-catching TE's in the NFL and hasn't even begun to show the NFL all that he can do. 

Heap is a special TE and the addition of these receivers should take a considerable amount of pressure off allowing him to do what he does best; dominate. Heap will remain one of the top receiving threats at TE in the NFL and his statistics can only improve after logging an entire season as a starter facing double and sometimes triple teams from the defenses that the Ravens faced weekly. 

This revamped receiving core hardly resembles that of season's past as the addition of these new players will allow the Ravens to bring more versatility to a passing game who's predictability was it's biggest fault. 

It's easy to see that the Ravens surely have improved the size and explosiveness of their receiving core and the excitement of the upcoming season for the fans has to be boiling over with anticipation.- Time to show and prove.-Pro-


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