Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer 352d

Breshad Perriman goes from first-rounder to NFL's most inefficient target

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens had to envision that Breshad Perriman would be their No. 1 wide receiver by now after selecting him with the No. 26 overall pick in 2015.

Three seasons later, Perriman is far from being the go-to target for Joe Flacco. In fact, he's the exact opposite.

At the midway point of the NFL season, Perriman is the NFL's most inefficient receiver. He ranks last in the league in both receptions per target (21.1 percent) and receptions per routes run (2.8 percent).

Through eight games, Perriman has nearly as may drops (two) as receptions (four), but he insists that hasn't resulted in a drop in confidence.

"I know I'm good. I know what I'm going to be in this league," Perriman said. "I don't really struggle too much with confidence. But there are some times when I tell myself that I'm 'that dude.' "

"That dude" averaged 20.9 yards per catch in his final season at Central Florida and ran the 40-yard dash at his pro day in 4.24 seconds, which is faster than anyone at that year's combine. There's no one on this team who has the size-speed combination of Perriman.

But injuries, inconsistent route-running and unreliable hands have derailed his career.

Consider this:

  • Griff Whalen, who was with the Ravens for 12 days, had has many catches as Perriman this season

  • Danny Woodhead, who played only one series this year, has more receiving yards (33) than Perriman (26)

  • There are 257 players who have made more receptions than Perriman in 2017

In Pro Football Focus grades, Perriman ranks 108th out of 109 wide receivers.

"I'm not going to lie to you, it's difficult," Perriman said. "It's a daily battle. But at the same time, I can't let it beat me. I've been through things a lot more worse than this."

Are the Ravens worried about Perriman's confidence?

"That's a good question. I typically don't, because our players ... there is no lack of confidence," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "He gets going just a little bit, and then things tend to rock and roll for players. Some players haven't been through it; it may click seamlessly as they come out of college. He was hurt his whole first year, and sometimes it might be that third year. A little patience is not a bad thing in this situation."

Perriman was the Ravens' best receiver in offseason practices this year. Looking healthy, fast and well-rounded, he made fingertip catches, pulled in contested over-the-shoulder throws and outran cornerback Jimmy Smith for one touchdown.

But, like the past two seasons, an injury put a halt to that momentum. A hamstring injury sidelined him for the entire preseason.

This season, he has caught only four passes despite being targeted 19 times and running 145 routes. Perriman has caught a pass on only 2.8 percent of his routes run, which is staggering compared to the league average of 12.9 percent.

"This is a weird game, and one thing that hopefully he understands is that it only takes one game to get you going," wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "He has the talent; he's made plays here. And I'm pretty sure that whenever he gets those plays and those things going, he'll start rolling."

Wide receivers Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton were considered major disappointments after being selected in the first round by Baltimore. But Perriman's stats are much worse than either one of them.

Through 23 games, Perriman has 37 catches for 525 yards and three touchdowns. That is dwarfed by the numbers produced by Taylor (65 receptions for 774 yards and five touchdowns) and Clayton (85 receptions for 973 yards and five touchdowns) in their first 23 games.

"I just got to remain positive," Perriman said. "I can't hang my head when things aren't going the way I think it should go."

Wide receiver Mike Wallace, one of Perriman's biggest supporters, made the point that no one has been tearing it up in Baltimore's passing game. Maclin has 19 catches and Wallace has 16 receptions.

Wallace reiterated his confidence in Perriman turning around his career.

"He's going to be a big part for us in the second half," Wallace said. "I know I've been preaching that. He's going to do it. He's going to come to light."

Time could be starting to run out on Perriman in Baltimore. The Ravens are unlikely to pick up the fifth-year option on Perriman, which means he'll be signed only through the 2018 season.

How Perriman performs over the next 1 1/2 years could determine his future with the Ravens.

"He's a speed guy for us, and he's capable of going up and making great plays with the ball; I've seen him do it," coach John Harbaugh said. "So, we just need to see him do it."

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