Two weeks ago, when addressing the state of the Ravens heading into this offseason, general manager Ozzie Newsome was vague when discussing the team’s stated need of adding another target for quarterback Joe Flacco.
The only clue Newsome gave was that the Ravens wanted a wide receiver or tight end “that can make a third-and-7, third-and-8 catch and run after the catch.”
This week at the Senior Bowl, in an interview with the team’s website, director of college scouting Joe Hortiz specified the type of player they covet -- and it sounds a lot like Anquan Boldin.
“Forget about his size, forget about his speed,” Hortiz said. “Can he make the play?”
That is what Boldin often did for the Ravens, especially in the playoffs, before they traded him to the San Francisco 49ers before the season. Ravens coach John Harbaugh admitted that the Ravens were unable to replace what Boldin brought to the table and the team checked out wide receivers at the Senior Bowl this week.
“We want the guy that can make the play on third down, that understands how to get open against zone, who understands gaps in the zone, can settle in it and influence guys,” Hortiz said. “If it’s man, he can win in one-on-one situations. If somebody presses him, it’s going to be a risk.
“In football, it’s about gaining that initial separation, especially in those situations in third-and-7 because you’re shooting for the first down and not the end zone. They need to be able to get separation to give Joe a window to throw to. He can be eight yards away or a half-yard away, but he has to create a window for Joe and make the play.”
Together, Newsome and Harbaugh decided that the Ravens need to find someone who can make those clutch catches and move the chains, something the offense sorely lacked with Boldin gone and tight end Dennis Pitta injured. The good news is that the Ravens believe they will be able to find what they are looking for in a deep draft.