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Why Breshad Perriman is the Ravens’ breakout player this season

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The Ravens are counting on a big year from Perriman. Retired NFL defensive end Stephen White expects that to happen.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Training Camp Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens third-year receiver Breshad Perriman is a guy who was known for his speed and athleticism coming out of college, but there were a lot of question marks about his hands. For people who know how I evaluate receivers, a guy with inconsistent hands always scares me, no matter how fast their 40 time is. Perriman was also thought to be a little raw with his route running coming out, too.

He seemed to be a guy who had the tools to be a good NFL player, but who would need to work on his technique, especially catching the ball correctly.

And then he lost his entire rookie season to a PCL knee ligament injury.

Not good for a guy who was supposed to be a speed receiver.

He was finally able to get on the field last year, but he looked a little hesitant to me in the early part of the season. He just looked kinda slow and sluggish in his route running. However, on film, I felt like I saw him getting faster and faster as the season progressed. It at least appeared he found it easier and easier to run by people deep as the weeks went by, and that was very encouraging.

I would expect him to start this season with the kind of blazing speed that he showed at the end of last season, which should give the Ravens the deep threat that their offense sorely needs. I know he has a pulled hamstring, but it’s a lot easier to get over those than it is to trust your knee a year after injuring it.

Overall, I thought last season went OK for Perriman. He did have some drops, but what I found interesting was that most of them only seemed to happen in situations where he didn't have to extend his arms to make the catch.

Or, to put it a different way, he seemed less prone to drops on the harder passes away from his body and more prone to drops on what I would normally consider “easy” passes. To me that speaks to the issue being his concentration, trying to run before securing the catch, rather than him just having bad hands or poor technique catching the ball.

Some of those concentration drops likely had to do with Perriman trying to do too much to try to make up for lost time, but hopefully he will be a little more comfortable and confident heading into his third season. If he can eliminate those concentration drops, he is going to be a problem for opposing defenses this season.

With Steve Smith retired, I also see Perriman having more opportunities coming his way this season. Even with the Ravens picking up Jeremy Maclin, because Maclin does not demand the football the way that Smith did. Maclin also has some injury issues as well that can't be overlooked. The Ravens also can't seem to keep a tight end healthy these days, so that's another reason to think Perriman will see more targets.

I think this is the season where we will see Perriman really showcase all of his talents. That’s why I chose him as the Ravens’ breakout player.