The Baltimore Ravens’ top receiver in the 2021 season is going to be a player they didn’t add this offseason. Marquise Brown is going to have a career year in the offense.
There were two big winners of the 2021 NFL Draft class in terms of the Baltimore Ravens. First, Lamar Jackson got taken care of. Jackson. The Ravens added two receivers after signing Sammy Watkins before the draft. The offensive line also got tended to as well.
The other big winner was Marquise Brown. Brown managed to put up 104 receptions and 15 touchdowns so far in his two-year career. He did that while being the only legitimate weapon at the wide receiver position. He did that an offense that passes less than the rest of the league does.
The Ravens now have a group of receivers that can complement each other. Sammy Watkins may not be a superstar, though the defense has to respect what he brings to the table. Defensive coordinators were basically daring Jackson to throw the ball to Miles Boykin. They can’t do that with Watkins.
Rashod Bateman may be an unpolished rookie, though he’s a handful for defensive backs. Bateman is going to make plays before he gets completely coached up. We already know what Devin Duvernay can bring to the offense and Wallace should show flashes of what he brings to the table.
The way defenses have to play the Ravens has completely changed. It’s not just about taking away Brown and Mark Andrews. The Ravens went from having one wide receiver they could confidently take shots down the field with, to having a few guys Jackson could trust deep.
It doesn’t take much for Brown to slip past the defense for big plays. To make this a consistent part of the Ravens’ formula Watkins and Bateman just have to be good. They don’t have to be superstars, they just need to be respectable receivers. They need to take attention away from Brown, that’s it.
With all the additions to the offense, Brown has an advantage nobody else has in the receiver room. He’s Jackson’s favorite target. Jackson’s chemistry with Brown is very obvious. That kind of connection doesn’t get weakened when Jackson has more options. Brown is always going to be Jackson’s guy.
Brown had 58 receptions last year. Willie Snead had 33 while Duvernay had 20. Jackson only had 376 passing attempts in the 2020 season. The fact of the matter is that the passing game was carried by only two pass catchers Mark Andrews and “Hollywood” Brown.
If Brown can do that in that situation he can do more in this situation. Let’s play a game. How much more do you think the Ravens are going to pass the ball? As a team, the Ravens had 406 attempts last season through the air. That’s about 25 passes a game. Let’s up the pass attempts up to 450 attempts.
That’s about 28 passing attempts a game for the Ravens. Jackson completes about 65 percent of his passes. At this pace, the Ravens would have 44 more pass attempts and just under 30 more completions. You would have to think that a good chunk of that extra production is still going to Brown.
Let’s say Brown catches 70 passes. That’s about the maximum amount available for any one player in this offense. Brown had 769 yards last year, but remember he’s a more dangerous deep threat when he isn’t the only deep threat.
Let’s give Brown 1,200 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. That would be an average of 17.14 yards per catch. That’s doable in an offense that actually exploits Brown’s speedster status.
The Bottom Line:
Brown is already a play-maker. Brown was leading a receiving group that just didn’t have it. Brown is going to benefit from attention going to other play-makers and his production will continue to go up.
One of the most exciting aspects of the 2021 season is that the Ravens can finally try to showcase the talent they already had in the passing game. Jackson has the talent he needed the help. The stage is also set for Brown to have a breakout year, the kind of year that lands you in the Pro Bowl.