COMMENTARY | When the Baltimore Ravens opted to trade veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, it left the wide receiver position in Baltimore depleted and inexperienced.
Since trading Boldin, the Ravens have not made any efforts to improve the position, other than drafting Aaron Mellette out of Elon in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Could that be because the Ravens are confident in their current group of receivers?
That is certainly a possible scenario.
Outside of third-year receiver Torrey Smith, the Ravens don't have many proven receivers. Veteran Jacoby Jones proved to be a valuable asset during the team's Super Bowl run and is currently slated to be a starter when the Ravens travel to Denver for the season opener. However, in the team's best interest, it'd be more ideal if Jones wasn't a starter.
Jones made clutch plays in big games in 2012, but he has never proven to be a reliable receiver in the NFL. He did catch 51 passes in 2010 for the Houston Texans, but he has never developed dependable hands on route-running skills.
Moving forward, one of the Ravens' young, inexperienced receivers will likely emerge during training camp to assume the other starting role opposite Smith. Could that man be second-year pass catcher Deonte Thompson?
In 2012, Thompson beat the odds by making the final 53-man roster despite entering training camp as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Florida. He displayed his big play ability during the preseason by catching 10 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. He also flashed his skill as a return man.
That was more than enough to give Thompson a role on the team to begin the season. He was active for the first five games of the regular season, catching one pass for 25 yards. He was used primarily as a kick returner, however a fumble in Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs led to the emergence of Jones as Baltimore's main return man. After the Chiefs game, Thompson remained on the 53-man roster but was not active again until Week 17 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
In that game, he was one of the Ravens' most productive players, catching four passes for 26 yards in a rather extensive role. He displayed his versatility as an underneath receiver with reliable hands and quick cuts and agility after the catch.
His play in 2012 wasn't extensive as a whole, but it may have been enough to put him on the team's radar as a candidate for the second starting job. Thompson will be competing with Jones, fellow second-year receiver Tommy Streeter and veteran Tandon Doss.
If Thompson can continue to flash his dynamic skill and smooth route-running ability during training camp, he very well may be one of quarterback Joe Flacco's go-to targets in 2013.
Kyle Casey is a Journalism student at Towson University in Baltimore, Md. He maintains his own football site, End Zone Report, and contributes to Russell Street Report, a Baltimore Ravens blog.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Jacoby Jones
- the Ravens
- Baltimore Ravens
- Anquan Boldin
- Torrey Smith