The Ravens have legitimate reason to hope that in 2013, Torrey Smith goes from steady to stardom.
Season No. 3 has historically been a breakout year for NFL wide receivers. Here are two examples from 2012:
Dez Bryant, Cowboys – In 2011 as a second-year player, Bryant caught 63 passes for 928 yards and nine touchdowns. Last season, Bryant blossomed for 92 catches, 1,382 yards, and 12 TD’s.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – In 2011 as a second-year player, Thomas had 32 receptions for 551 yards and four touchdowns. In 2012, Thomas became a star – 94 catches, 1434 yards, 10 TD’s.
Roddy White of the Falcons also made a huge jump from his second season to third season – 30 catches, 506 yards, and zero touchdowns in 2006, to 83 receptions, 1202 yards, and six touchdowns in 2007.
Those examples give Smith added motivation to think 2013 could be special for him. The opportunity is there. Anquan Boldin, the wide receiver Joe Flacco targeted most in 2012, has been traded to the 49ers. Smith is a proven deep threat, and Flacco has the arm to take advantage of Smith’s speed. That breakaway speed leads to another Smith strength – drawing penalties from the defense. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Smith led all NFL receivers in drawing penalties last season with 16.
However, Smith must prove he is capable of flourishing as a No. 1 target without Boldin’s presence. Smith’s first two NFL seasons have yielded similar numbers – 50 catches for 841 yards and seven TD’s in 2011; 49 receptions for 855 yards and eight TD’s in 2012.
The Ravens have never had to rely on Smith to carry a bigger load, not with Ray Rice in the backfield, and Flacco able to target Boldin in clutch situations. But 2013 could different. The Ravens have not had anyone top 1000 yards in receiving since Derrick Mason in 2009. Is Smith ready to cross that barrier in 2013? His third season could be the time.