AFC North Q&A: How much will the lack of an established WR or RB hold back the Ravens?

Building a Super Bowl-caliber defense seemed to be the Ravens' top priority in the draft, and that philosophy came at the expense of an offense in need of help at running back and wide receiver. Our AFC North reporters weigh in on the consequences.

Jeremy Fowler, ESPN's Pittsburgh Steelers reporter: The Ravens' decision to ignore playmakers in the draft was a bit odd, and the receiver position might hold them back -- not from making the playoffs, but from making a January push. The running game isn't a huge concern. The Ravens have had success with a running-game-by-committee approach. The lack of receiving weapons surrounding Joe Flacco was an issue before Steve Smith Sr. retired. The recent acquisition of Jeremy Maclin will help. But it's on Breshad Perriman now. If he's a true No. 1, then Mike Wallace can slide into that secondary role and the Ravens will have something. Still, the tight ends don't exactly scare opponents, and questions persist about which players will win on intermediate routes.

Pat McManamon, ESPN's Cleveland Browns reporter: The signing of Maclin eased the concern at receiver. How much remains to be seen. Teams can find backs in this passing era, but with the increased emphasis in the passing game it's important to have a bell-cow receiver. Ben Roethlisberger has Antonio Brown. Matt Ryan has Julio Jones. Aaron Rodgers has Jordy Nelson. Eli Manning has Odell Beckham Jr. The best offenses need the one guy they can count on, and the best quarterbacks find that guy when they need him. Wallace is not that guy, nor is Perriman. Flacco will have to find out if Maclin is that guy. Without some threat outside, teams will be able to squeeze the field on the Ravens. For this team, it's important that Maclin steps forward in a No. 1 role, and until someone does the Ravens' offense will be in "growth" mode.

Katherine Terrell, ESPN's Cincinnati Bengals reporter: It has been several years since the Ravens had a running back capable of producing a 1,000-yard season, and last season, they ranked 28th in average rushing yards. The Ravens' most promising option at this point looks like Terrance West, who rushed for 774 yards last season. Kenneth Dixon showed promise, but he'll miss the first four games because of suspension. West will be the main guy, at least for the first month. West is saying all the right things now, but the Ravens need to take a big step forward in this category. They've managed to get by with a so-so running game before, but they've missed the playoffs for two straight seasons while their average number of rushing attempts has dipped to franchise lows. If the Ravens have to put the season on Flacco's shoulders again (he was second in the NFL in passing attempts in 2016), they could struggle to find a way to make the postseason again this year. The offense must become more balanced if they want to improve on their 8-8 record.