Joe Flacco, Ravens have need for Steelers' speed at wide receiver

The Ravens would like to find somebody who can stretch a defense over the top with speed such as Vincent Jackson. AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman

Joe Flacco was asked whether there's a need for more speed at the Baltimore Ravens' wide receiver position, and the quarterback aptly pointed to his team's biggest rival in the AFC North.

“I don’t know if it’s something that it needs, but yes, you see what speed does," Flacco said. "It does a lot for football teams. You see what the Steelers are doing with the speed that they’ve added over the last couple years. It definitely makes a difference out there."

The Ravens bottomed out as a receiver group, ranking last in the NFL with a 10.4-yard average per catch. Some of that had to do with the fact that Kamar Aiken was the only season-opening receiver on the roster to not finish on injured reserve. But it also reflects how the Ravens never had a true deep threat after losing Torrey Smith (who led the NFL with a 20-yards-per-catch average) in free agency and rookie first-round pick Breshad Perriman to a season-long knee injury.

Meanwhile, the Steelers ranked fifth in the NFL with a 12.3-yard average per reception. Pittsburgh can attack a secondary with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton. Brown finished tied for the NFL lead with eight catches over 40 yards, and Bryant (17.0) and Wheaton (15.3) both ranked in the NFL's top 20 in yards per catch.

Ravens officials say they're not going to stand pat with Perriman, Aiken and Steve Smith. General manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged Baltimore has to add a wide receiver this offseason.

“And if possible, two, whether it’s by the draft and/or free agency," Newsome said. "I think we need to continue to improve the depth of our receivers on this roster.”

So, what can the Ravens do to improve? In free agency, a wide receiver such as Washington's DeSean Jackson or Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson could be released for salary-cap reasons. Since 2008, DeSean Jackson (17.6) and Vincent Jackson (17.1) each rank in the top three in yards per catch.

In the draft, the top vertical threats in the first two rounds are Baylor's Corey Coleman, Notre Dame's Will Fuller and Pittsburgh's Tyler Boyd.

"I’m not saying that it’s something that we need, but when we’ve had it here, it’s definitely made a little bit of a difference," Flacco said. "So, it helps.”