Dave Razzano is a former NFL scout and Playmaker Mobile correspondent with more than 22 years of professional scouting experience with the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals under NFL coaches including Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Chuck Knox, Dick Vermeil and Dennis Green. He has been a part of five Super Bowls with three Super Bowl wins (49ers, 1989, 1990; Rams, 2000).
Interview by Dewey Hammond.
One of the teams you’ve worked with is the Arizona Cardinals. Obviously you’re very familiar with Anquan Boldin. Tell me a bit about Anquan Boldin and how you think he’s going to fit with Joe Flacco, Derrick Mason and that offense in Baltimore.
Anquan Boldin is a fierce competitor. He had a lot of the same attributes as Larry Fitzgerald at Arizona. He had some nicks off and on but he still was highly productive with like 84 catches last year even though he was injured. The guy is a real positive influence in the locker room. He brings the same mentality to the offense that Ray Lewis brings to the defense, and I think the team will rally around him and his leadership. I think he’ll be highly productive next year. He’ll end up being Joe Flacco’s go-to clutch guy as the season progresses, and I think it’s a heck of a get for Baltimore. I think it’s just what they need, an outside receiver. He’s not an explosive speed guy but he’s more of a Hines Ward type. He does the dirty work underneath. He blocks. He’s consistent. He’s a guy that wants the ball in a clutch situation, and I think it’s an outstanding pickup for the Ravens.
With the exception of the fact that he’s a little bit younger and a little bit bigger, how does he differ as a wide receiver from Derrick Mason?
Well, Derrick is kind of the same type. He goes deep. He goes underneath. He’s sort of a versatile type. He’s just physically stronger. When you see Boldin on the practice field he looks like a tight end. He’s about 224 pounds. He looks like one of those undersized slot-receiving tight ends. He’s not going to jump off the tape with Mason’s quickness. What he does is he’s an outstanding competitive route-runner. He works to get open, especially across the middle. He’ll catch in traffic. He’s physical. His whole thing is physicalness. That’s how he wears down DBs because he’ll block them all day, and then he’ll separate from them and make the catch. They get kind of tired of dealing with him because he’s a Hines Ward type. Mason’s more of a — he’s a lighter version. He’s not as physical. Mason’s more of a finesse player as opposed to Boldin, a more physical pound-you-hit-you-in-the-mouth receiver.
One of the things that Ravens fans have been talking about since he joined Baltimore is that he plays the game very similar to Ray Lewis, and you were actually telling me yesterday that in Arizona you guys actually called him the Ray Lewis of the offense.
That’s true. The personnel department, when we — being around him a while, just his leadership in the locker room, the way players respond to him, the way players just latch onto him and listen to him, he definitely has big-time leadership skills. And to go along with Lewis, he has a lot to prove. This is his second team. He’ll feel like a rookie again and he’ll want to prove to those Ravens that he’s still an elite receiver, and I expect him to have a big year.
Some of the concerns, some of the naysayers are saying, ‘You know what, Boldin — fantastic receiver; Derrick Mason — fantastic receiver; now what you’ve got yourself is two number-two receivers and not a true number one.’ Tell me your thoughts on that.
I don’t think it matters, number one, number two. I think that’s overblown. When the Niners — back in the day they had Jerry Rice and John Taylor, and John Taylor put up some huge numbers as well as Rice. If you have two, you kind of help each other out. It takes the focus off of one. I think they’ll both thrive and I they’ll both appreciate the other being on the field. So yeah, I think all that one-two gets overrated. There’s enough balls to go around, and I think it takes the pressure off of — I think it’ll create more opportunities for both of them. It’s kind of like Fitzgerald and Boldin. There was a year they both had over 100 catches. You have to have two good ones and you help each other out in the process.
You said Boldin is a great guy to have in the locker room. Compare him to Larry Fitzgerald and the locker-room leadership. How does he match up?
Larry is a little more self-centered. Larry is a little bit more of a loner where Boldin is more of a take-charge, maybe works a little harder at practice, that sort of thing. Larry is just an overall — Larry is a more elite skill player. Boldin is more of a solid competitor, day in and day out. He does all the things off the field. He’s football first, all football. You know, Larry might be more involved in some off the field — he might end up in Hollywood one day, you know what I’m saying? He’s a great guy but just a little different. He’s more of a leader by example. He’s not the rah-rah type. He kind of goes and does his thing and produces, where Boldin is the guy who will get everybody charged up on the sidelines, that sort of thing. Boldin, he’s just more of a natural leader, in the locker and on the sideline and during the game.
Another guy who has something to prove in Baltimore, Donté Stallworth. How do you see that shaking out, that experiment?
Stallworth has never been consistent, and that’s carried through his off-the-field stuff. He was like that at Tennessee. Stallworth is a guy you just can’t depend on. He does have ability, but again, it’s the same [inaudible]. He’s more of a vertical guy. He’s not a guy to do the underneath dirty work, and I don’t think he’s a real hard worker. I don’t see Stallworth helping them much. He’s got ability but he’s a little like Brian Johnson at Arizona who is now with Detroit, I believe. They don’t have that extra drive and work ethic, which translates to production. Stallworth, to me, is a guy who is just a fringe speed/vertical guy that doesn’t really bring anything close to what Boldin brings.