Over the past few years it seems that each training camp features the deepest receiving group.
This year is no different.
The Ravens will open training camp with eight or nine wideouts that could make a 53-man roster around the league. Though only one has proven to be a superstar — that being Steve Smith — the rest of the position group has a lot of talent to at least contribute on Sundays.
“Well, it’s going to be very competitive at wide receiver, so you’re going to have guys who are going to have nicks and things like that," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "One day to the next, different guys are going to get reps and throws, and that’s really what determines who moves on. Who can do it and who can do it the next day, the day after that over the long haul? We’ll find out who those guys are.”
These Ravens receivers are safe — Smith, Breshad Perriman, Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken. Smith is the leader of this group and Perriman is the first-round draft choice. These guys will be the top two receivers, even if Perriman is rotating in when training camp opens. Brown made tremendous strides during the offseason and has the size ideal for Marc Trestman's offense. Aiken does everything well as he has a good competition of size, speed, hands and route-running.
From there, training camp could decide how things shake out.
Conventional wisdom would suggest Michael Campanaro is ensured a spot simply because he offers an inside presence that the receivers other than Smith can provide. However, the fact he's injury prone could open up some opportunities for others. For Campanaro to guarantee himself a spot, he'll have to stay healthy throughout training camp.
As of now, Jeremy Butler is a favorite to win a 53-man roster spot. He's someone that coaches and teammates have raved about all offseason. Butler was an injury stash a year ago. If he continues his impressive offseason into training camp, he could assure himself the fifth spot ahead of Campanaro.
The last two receivers in legitimate competition for a 53-man roster spot would be draft pick Darren Waller and undrafted free agent DeAndre Carter. Waller has the size and speed (6-foot-6, 238 pounds, 4.46 40-yard dash) to be a matchup nightmare in the NFL. However, his route-running and ball skills aren't NFL caliber yet, considering he's coming from an option-based offense at Georgia Tech. Then again, the Ravens generally favor draft picks, which could work in Waller's favor.
Carter is quite possibly the most intriguing of this year's group. Toward the end of OTAs and minicamp, it was apparent he's not at a level at the others. But his speed and return capabilities make him a wild card as a potential seventh receiver to open the season with for special teams purposes.
Based on what we know, if the season began tomorrow, here's who I think the Ravens go with at receiver — Smith, Perriman, Brown, Aiken, Butler, Campanaro.
I'm not exactly going out on a limb here with these. And of course, Trestman did favor bigger receivers in Chicago, which could work against Campanaro's 5-9 frame. Waller could easily take his place with Carter a practice squad candidate.
One thing's for sure, though. There really isn't a wrong scenario with these receivers. The Ravens have a luxury at the moment and have plenty of options to choose from.