Ravens Training Camp Battle Preview: Crockett Gillmore vs Maxx Williams


Jan 3, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Crockett Gillmore (80) scores a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half during the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens are not without a number of intriguing position battles at several positions, but perhaps the most anticipated and unsettled lies at the tight end position.  Despite Dennis Pitta’s optimism, the star vet hasn’t yet received medical clearance to participate in team drills, and there’s no guarantee that he will.

The Ravens protected themselves by using second and fifth round picks on tight ends in this year’s draft – Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle, respectively.  They also have rising sophomore Crockett Gillmore, a third round pick from last year, returning to fight for snaps.  Tight end figures to be a focus on offense yet again as the Ravens retain elements of last year’s offensive scheme.

The starting tight end in the Ravens’ offense figures to see a good number of targets in the passing game, as Joe Flacco has always shown a desire to check down when necessary.  This means that in addition to Ravens fans, fantasy football fans are watching this particular battle with earnest as well.  As we saw with Owen Daniels last season, this offense can generate value for even the most downtrodden former star.

Both Maxx Williams and Crockett Gillmore have demonstrated plus pass catching skills in the past. Neither put up big numbers last season, but that can be attributed to usage in both cases.  Gillmore was eased in behind Daniels as a rookie, spending a good bit of his snaps on blocking assignments.  Williams played in an offense that didn’t feature him in the passing game, despite his obvious big play ability.

Related: Crockett Gillmore Headed for a Blocking Tight End Role?

Williams was a beast almost every time he touched the ball in college, with an incredible 82% of his catches going for a first down or touchdown.  He simply has more natural talent than Gillmore and is a more complete player at this point and time.  The one thing holding him back is his lack of polish from that aforementioned lack of opportunity.

First year tight ends have historically struggled to make an impact in the NFL as well.  No matter how talented, playing tight end at the NFL level is a different animal than doing it in college.  Williams has to work on his routes, in-line blocking, and fine tune his technique after the catch.  He can’t simply run by everyone like he did at Minnesota.

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Having said that, it’s easy to assume that the Ravens will trust Gillmore more coming into the season. But this is a team that is going to start its best players.  If Maxx Williams can earn their trust this offseason and prove to be a true weapon in the passing game, he’ll get the nod.  If they choose to run two tight end sets, he may not even need to necessarily become an elite blocker in year one.

Related: Nick Boyle Making Noise as a Sleeper

Which is what I expect to happen.  I think that the talent of Maxx Williams is going to translate well to the field, and the Ravens need his explosiveness and big play ability.  With Breshad Perriman running wild on the outside, can you imagine the damage he can do underneath?  The Ravens have to be rooting for him to develop quickly, and even Cool Joe has to be excited at the possibility.

Next: Joe Flacco and Breshad Perriman Already Lighting it Up

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