We will update this article with the news about the 2013 NFL Schedule… as I write this, the rumor is very strong concerning the Ravens opening on a Thursday night at Denver—all because of a scheduling conflict in Baltimore with the Orioles. We'll know by the end of this blurb…
We all know QB Joe Flacco needs a steady influx of high-quality receivers if he is to play his best game possible. There's a tendency to look at some of the flashy and speedy wideouts coming out in the draft and think maybe Ozzie might reach for one of them if they fall down the board a little.
I'm talking about guys like West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, a Dunbar High School graduate, regarded by many experts as the top receiver in the draft and a likely top-16 pick. The other players widely regarded as the top wideouts are Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter.
“Obviously, Tavon, who everyone is familiar with in this city, and then the Tennessee wideouts are talented guys who have some explosive playmaking ability,” Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said.
Austin, Patterson and Hunter are likely expected to be gone by the time Baltimore picks…unless one of them falls down the board unexpectedly. That's why Hortiz and the Ravens have their eyes on this guy:
Robert Woods, WR, USC
Scouting Report (courtesy of nepatriotsdraft.com):
+ Great speed, likely to run in the mid to low 4.4s, shows the straight line speed to run by most CBs
+ All-State Track Star in HS – Ran a 21.01 200m and a 46.17 400m, both of which were top times in the state
+ Athletic frame with good muslce tone in the upper body
+ Possesses a 6’1″ frame with long arms and big hands, with very good leaping ability
+ Exhibits explosive burst off the line, can accelerate quickly reaching top speed after a couple strides
+ Is faster than quick, but displays good change of direction ability.
+ Often catches the ball going one way, but can stop change direction and get back up to speed quickly
+ Elusive in the open field, has had multiple touchdowns with 20+ YAC
+ Has a second gear, when it clicks in he separates easily and can run by “off” defenders and the deep safety
+ One of the best athletes in college football, tested well at the combine
– Woods weight has been reported anywhere from 185-190 pounds, he needs to add muscle and strength
– Not afraid to give out and take contact, leaves himself exposed too much and vulnerable to big hit…
+ Has some of the best hands in America
+ Large soft hands, watches the ball in and does a good job at maintaining focus and adjusting to the ball
+ Makes the tough catches look easy, will go after every ball and put his body on the line
+ Catches the ball well in tight spaces, will go over the middle and lay out
+ Presents large catching target due to leaping ability and ability to go get it
+ Knows how to use his body to shield the defender from the ball
+ Will drift toward sideline to create separation on deep sideline/fade routes
– Has an occasional concentration drop, which he needs to clean up
– Sometimes he leaps or leaves his feet when it’s not necessary while the ball is being delivered…
+ Stong route runner, crisp clean breaks, explosive when running double moves
+ Doesn’t lose speed when coming in and out of breaks
+ Creates separation with long strides and sudden, quick breaks
+ Accelerates at the top of his routes and is fluid in change of direction
+ Well developed route tree, USC moves him all across the formation, including slot
+ Is lethal when running fade routes and red zone combinations
+ Does a good job of maintaining control and balance of his body and never looks out of control
+ Works back to the ball and keeps moving when the play breaks down
+ Is utilized in the short passing game a lot – quick passes, 3 step slants, bubble screens.
+ Can make things happen after the catch
+ Possession type WR, but also has the ability to be a home run threat
+ When running vertical routes, Woods attacks the DB
+ Woods does a very good job of stemming his routes and getting position on the DB
+ Beats press coverage at the line with quickness and elusiveness
– Can and will struggle against stronger and more physical cornerbacks who can get their hands on him quickly
– He can clean up some of the unnessary shake and jukes while running routes and try to make each route look the same…
+ Recognizes and understands different coverages
+ Finds soft spots in zone and works his way open
+ Had a great rapport with QB Matt Barkley, can adjust and break off a route based on coverages
+ Knows what the down and situation is and has shown good “in game” situational awareness…
+ Is an extreme competitor
+ Very tough on himself and thinks he should make each play
+ If he drops the ball or doesn’t make a play he can be seen yelling at himself
– Bitterly threw his USC coaching staff under the bus while declaring for draft…
+ Shows a willingness to block, but lacks technique and form
– Needs to add some strength to his frame…
Robert Woods is one of the best NFL prospects in college football. He is a well rounded and explosive wide receiving talent. On one play he could stretch the field over the top for a 60 yard touchdown. On the next play he can run a three yard slant over the middle and convert a first down. He is a player that has a polished route tree and understands how to get open. He is exciting with the ball in his hand and he can turn a five yard bubble screen into a 50 yard gain. Woods will leave it all out on the field, selling out his body to make a play. He excels in the red zone where he uses his close quarters explosiveness to get open. Woods will give the team everything he has and has high expectations for himself. He is the type of player who wants the ball in the biggest situations and knows how to make the big play.
Scouting Notes vs Notre Dame
He is able to get in and out of breaks so quickly, and always has a crispness to them. No rounding them off here. He has the ability to play every receiver spot on the field and USC uses him that way. Whether he lines up as the X, Y, slot, boundary, or field WR he produces.
Robert Woods is an example of a late 1st or early 2nd rounder who would fit into the Ravens plan quite nicely without having to reach for a big risk/big reward type guy at an earlier pick.
Woods was once regarded as a likely top-10 pick after putting up more than 1,200 receiving yards as a sophomore in 2011. His production trailed off slightly last year – he still had 74 catches for 849 yards and 11 touchdowns – and now he’s expected to get picked at the end of the first or early in the second.
All of this projection is based, of course, on the assumption that the Ravens would grab a top-flight prospect at WR with their first pick. They may opt for a defensive position pick (ILB ?) and settle instead for a wideout prospect in the middle rounds. Hortiz is very high on mid-rounders this year— California’s Keenan Allen and Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins come to mind…even a relative unknown like Chris Harper from Kansas State, who's got that Anquan Boldin look about him.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And so it comes to pass… the Ravens will indeed open up 2013 on the road in Denver…
The Baltimore Ravens travel to Denver for the now-traditional Thursday night opener on Sept. 5. The Orioles are home that night and Major League Baseball could not move their game.
So $121 million quarterback Joe Flacco and his fellow champs were sent to Denver – to face Peyton Manning and the team they beat in double overtime on their way to the Super Bowl.
The next week, Peyton visits Eli's house. Who's writing this schedule, the producers of Melrose Place?