Ravens Burning questions: who will start at tight end?


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 set at most every position, and despite some upcoming training camp battles, it isn’t too hard to predict who will start at most of them.  Perhaps the one exception to that thought lies at the tight end position.

Dennis Pitta is the obvious starter if he is healthy, but we still don’t have a clear idea if he will be ready for the start of the season or if he is even able to continue his playing career.  We also don’t know if second year player Crockett Gillmore is ready to take on a major role.

Gillmore, along with 2015 second round draft choice Maxx Williams, are the obvious favorites here.  They carry the draft status and talent into this competition.  But while Gillmore is a sound blocker with limited special ability, Williams possesses the upside and natural talent to become a nice “move” tight end.

The problem is, very rarely do rookie tight ends make much of an impact in their first NFL season. Making the transition from college to the pro’s is especially difficult for tight ends, who generally serve a much different role in college.  Williams was also used rather sparingly during his time at Minnesota.

Adding to the difficulty is the stark contrast in the playbooks these players find.  Williams acknowledged the steep challenge he is facing both as a blocker and a pass catcher in his first year during mandatory minicamp.

"“It’s just a whole different scheme,” Williams said. “In Minnesota, we were going to run power all day and just run play action. That’s all we did unless we had a drop-back. For me, it’s really just kind of learning a brand-new playbook, so it is starting off fresh where I don’t really have any old habits. So, it’s just learning the technique and trying to run with it. …“I don’t think you really can expect anything coming into the NFL until you actually experience it. So, for me, I came in with an open mind knowing that it was going to be much different than college.”"

Taking all of these factors into consideration, it would appear that Gillmore has the slight upper hand right now.  The Ravens are sure to rotate at least Gillmore and Williams, however, and impressive fifth round pick Nick Boyle will likely see snaps as well.

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Obviously, the Ravens would prefer that Williams emerges as a superior option, but that might take some time.  If neither can lock down a full time role, we might even see them go three wide at receiver instead of lining up two tight ends.

For now, it seems like the two will rotate depending on the game situation.  Gillmore is a better blocker, and Williams is a more natural pass catcher.  Meaning that both could very well see action, with neither truly having the leg up on the other.

Next: Crockett Gillmore headed for a blocking role?

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