The Ravens, and Gary Kubiak in particular, have made it no secret that they are high on second year fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Kubiak’s recent comments show just how excited they are, as the new offensive coordinator expects 40-50 catches from the former fourth rounder this season.
“He reminds me a lot of a kid I had for a couple of years, James Casey,” Kubiak said. “He played really well for me. He’s athletic and can make some plays down the field. I like fullbacks that can run because there’s such a separation between them and the tailbacks. ‘Juice’ has responded well.”
“Coach Kubiak has said in our meetings that he could see me catching 40 or 50 balls this year, which would be a great start,” Juszczyk said. “I wouldn’t mind that one bit.”
That’s a pretty astounding number. To put it in perspective, 50 catches would have put him second behind only Torrey Smith in 2013. Juszczyk, by the way, had zero catches in 2013. The overall reception leader among fullbacks in the NFL in 2013 was the Brown’s Chris Ogbonnaya, who had 48.
But this is a different year and a totally different offense. There will be more short passes and dump offs, giving the athletic Juszczyk more looks. Not to mention last year’s starting fullback, Vonta Leach, is gone. Kubiak’s base offense is a two tight end, two back formation. This will give Juszczyk more opportunities to be on the field.
It’s nice to see the team excited to utilize their athletic fullback as more than just a blocker, and the position has proven to be an effective security blanket for several quarterbacks around the league. But 40-50 catches is a bit too optimistic in my opinion. I love Juszczyk’s potential, but I won’t exactly be drafting him in any of my fantasy leagues. He will, however, prove to be much more valuable to the Ravens (in real life).