Friday, April 17, 2009

Boldin to Ravens? Think Twice.

There has been a flurry of talk around Anquan Boldin, one of the elite Cardinal wide receivers, possibly being traded soon to another NFL club. The Cardinals have said that they are looking for at least a first and a third round pick in exchange for this disgruntled Pro Bowl wideout. The Ravens have been mentioned as one of the teams interested in possibly making a move for Boldin. There are a good number of Ravens fans who might agree with this, but please please think twice about this before pulling the trigger.

The Ravens should absolutely not make this trade if it involves giving up their first and third round picks. Anquan Boldin, while he represents the ideal physicality and toughness for a wide receiver, doesn't provide that breakaway speed that the Ravens have been looking for to complement Flacco's arm. Boldin is brilliant over the middle and in space, but the Ravens already have two receivers who are best when going over the middle rather than down the field. To acquire Boldin would no doubt be a massive upgrade to the receiving corps, but I would argue that the benefits of having a receiver like Boldin are far outweighed by the costs of getting him.

Before I even get to the cost in draft picks, let's consider the fact that Boldin expects to be paid like a top-flight receiver in the area of Larry Fitzgerald (hence why the Cardinals have to trade him). The Ravens are already in a tightening cap situation, and adding on a contract like Boldin will carry would severely handicap the Ravens down the line. The Ravens would be far better off paying one of the many talented rookie wideouts in the draft and saving those many millions of dollars that Boldin would warrant. This brings me to the cost in draft picks that this potential trade would entail. The Ravens have built their franchise through the draft, and not through quick and easy rentals. When they have traded away picks (getting rid of a future first rounder for Kyle Boller, trading several draft picks for McGahee), they have not been resounding successes. Rather, the Ravens have had uncanny success when they hang onto their picks and rely on their scouting department.

This is a very above-average draft for the wide receiver position. It is loaded with high-ceiling wideouts, and is exceptionally deep with receivers of different molds. Some of the top-tier guys certainly will not be there at pick 26, but there are still quality receivers who should fall. There is talk of Percy Harvin dropping, who would be a bit of a project but still has unbelievable physical tools, and Kenny Britt out of Rutgers is a fast riser who is finding his way into the first round discussion. Hakeem Nicks out of North Carolina is not quite the vertical player that the Ravens might be looking for, but has an immense physicality to him and excellent size. Also, the Ravens could utilize later picks, as with last year in jumping to get Joe Flacco, to nab a player like Darrius Heyward-Bey if he drops to the late teens. The point is, there is immense opportunity in this year's draft, and I feel more than confident that Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens scouting department can find an excellent wideout within this year's draft class and make the moves to get him.

There is no way that Anquan Boldin is worth the draft picks and contract money necessary to acquire him. The Ravens have built their success upon the draft, and the last thing the Ravens should do is mortgage that philosophy for a band-aid. Anquan Boldin is an excellent player, but he is not the answer. Get a young receiver who can grow together with your budding franchise quarterback, and you'll be onto something special.

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