When the Ravens drafted Breshad Perriman in the first round, the speedster from Central Florida became the first wide receiver the team had drafted in the first round since Mark Clayton in 2005.
Clayton, who's now retired, wound up catching 44 passes for 471 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie as he started 10 games. And Torrey Smith, the former Maryland standout now with the San Francisco 49ers via a five-year, $40 million contract this offseason, caught 50 passes for 847 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie second-round draft pick in 2011.
Perriman is eyeing a starting job and is hoping to make an immediate impact as a deep threat and otherwise following an offseason where he flashed playmaking skills and explosiveness along with a tendency to lose his concentration and drop passes.
"It's a goal of mine, but at the same time, it's not really on my mind," Perriman said as the Ravens concluded their June minicamp. "I'm just really trying to focus on getting better every day, just going out there, take it day by day and see how it plays out.
"I just take it day by day, try to not think about the starting job or anything like that, because I feel like I'd get thrown off track. For the most part, I just try to come out and compete and work on craft, the little things I need to work on to make me become a good receiver."
Perriman had one extremely rough practice where he dropped four passes, but didn't dwell on his mistakes or make excuses for his lapses.
Signed to a four-year, $8.705 million contract that includes a $4.59 million signing bonus and $7.09 milion in total guaranteed money, Perriman is competing with Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown and Michael Campanaro for a starting job opposite five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smtih.
At 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, Perriman's size and 4.22 speed in the 40-yard dash would provide a natural complementary presence to Smith.
"I'm doing a good job, but I'm striving for more," Perriman said. "I expect more from myself. I feel like I'm doing a decent job, but, at the same time just want to keep working so I can improve my craft."
What Perriman has done to deal with his dropped passes is take an introspective approach.
"I really just talk to myself," Perriman said. "It's really all mental. I talk to myself, tell myself the things that I need to do to complete those passes and just try to step it up a notch more."
Perriman caught 115 passes for 2,243 yards and 16 touchdowns at Central Florida. That included 50 receptions for 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior before declaring early for the draft. In his final college season, Perriman dropped eight passes.
Perriman is upbeat about offensive coordinator Marc Trestman's offense.
"I just like how they have the ability to move all the receivers around," Perriman said. "For me, I'm decent at going deep, but at the same time, they have the ability to move me around and put all the receivers in different positions. Everyone can be a slot receiver and run different routes. That's what I like about it."
Between now and the start of training camp on July 22 when rookies report, Perriman said he'll be training in Orlando, Fla. He's looking to refine his route running.
"For the most part, just tightening up my routes, but really, everything," Perriman said. "I feel like I really don't overlook anything. I feel like even the things that I'm good at, I continue to work on."
Although Perriman is expected to endure some growing pains, the Ravens are encouraged overall about the potential of the 26th overall pick of the draft.
"We're pleased with where he is," receivers coach Bobby Engram said. "He still has some work to do, as a lot of rookies do, but I'm excited about what he did. He came in here, he showed the speed we thought he had, and he caught the ball consistently.
"There are a few [catches] he knows he should have had. He worked his releases, he played fast, but there are just things we've got to continue to progress him on and that he's got to continue to work on to improve."
In 15 seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver, Engram caught 650 career passes for 7,751 yards and 35 touchdowns. As a rookie with the Chicago Bears in 1996, Engram played in every game with two starts and caught 33 passes for 389 yards and six touchdowns.
Engram has seen a strong work ethic from Perriman.
"He's a worker," Engram said. "On the field, we just keep working the fundamentals, getting in and out of breaks, transitioning, tracking the ball, being aggressive back to the ball – all the things he's working on since he started playing receiver. .. I love what I see. We've just got to continue to build on it."