Based on measurements alone, there was a lot to like about Tommy Streeter when the Ravens drafted him in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. He ran one of the fastest times in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine that year, and his 4.4 speed coupled with his 6-foot-5 frame and long arms made him an intriguing prospect.
But when he got onto the practice field during last year’s training camp, Streeter played much slower than his timed speed in spandex would indicate. Occasionally, he would use his long strides to sneak behind the defense that summer and he built a little buzz with a 33-yard touchdown catch in the third preseason game. The Ravens then placed him on injured with a sprained foot, essentially giving him a redshirt year last season.
This summer, though, Streeter did nothing at all to distinguish himself and quickly found himself at the back of the depth chart, running with a pair of longshot wide-outs who were assigned single-digit jersey numbers. When footballs were thrown Streeter’s way by one of the backup quarterbacks, they often clanked off his hands.
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Yet, when tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson got injured, some national analysts mentioned Streeter as a player who would help fill the void. With that speed and size, how could he not?
When they used a relatively low-risk second-day draft pick on Streeter, the Ravens were gambling that Streeter, who didn’t catch the ball well with his hands and didn’t run crisp routes, could put it all together over time and become a big downfield threat similar to Vincent Jackson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos.
He might also be able to help them near the end zone, but no team is going to carry a tall guy on its 53-man roster just so he could try to catch maybe five or six jump balls in a season.
But this summer, Streeter was passed up on the depth chart by 2013 seventh-round pick Aaron Mellette and rookie free agent Marlon Brown, among others. After he had just one catch for 4 yards in the team’s first three preseason games, the Ravens released Streeter on Sunday.
The Ravens hate giving up on recent draft picks, but they had no room for the 24-year-old with their depth chart so crowded right now. Another team, intrigued by his size and speed, might give him a chance of scenery and another shot. But here in Baltimore, Streeter is a reminder that potential can only take a player so far if it isn’t backed up with actual production.