Ravens: This player might have a bigger 2015 role than expected


Jan 21, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad tight end Nick Boyle of Delaware (86) hangs onto a pass over North squad safety Kurtis Drummond of Michigan State (27) and defensive corner Doran Grant of Ohio State (12) during North squad Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

When the Baltimore Ravens drafted the consensus best tight end in the 2015 NFL Draft, Maxx Williams, in the second round, everyone assumed that he would be the new starter.  Following the free agency departure of last year’s starter Owen Daniels and the iffy health of Dennis Pitta, it seemed like a lock.

But so far, Williams has admittedly struggled both to pick up the playbook and stand out on the practice field as well.  It’s not entirely unusual, as NFL rookie tight ends have a long history of failing to make a first year impact.

Many forget, but the Ravens also used a fifth round draft pick on another tight end – Nick Boyle.  Unlike Williams, Boyle has managed to catch on quickly and has shown a great deal of toughness on the field.  It all started in OTA’s, when the bigger version of Williams starting standing out.

Boyle made a number of catches and even saw more targets than Williams during 11-on-11 drills, despite missing a few weeks of classroom time because of scheduling conflicts at Delaware.  Boyle spent little time dispelling the idea that he was strictly a block first tight end with limited pass catching ability.

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Boyle is also a more pro ready blocker than Williams, which has been obvious at training camp. Williams got absolutely trucked by linebacker Terrell Suggs on one particular play.

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Meanwhile, Boyle did such a good job blocking Courtney Upshaw that the veteran knocked him to the ground and hit him while he was down following one play.  Upshaw was frustrated after he was unable to get past the rookie on several consecutive plays.

If the trends of the last couple of months continue, it’s going to be hard for the Ravens to ignore Nick Boyle.  They likely drafted him with an eye towards letting him develop behind Crockett Gillmore as a blocker, perhaps serving a reserve/rotational role.

With the slow development of Williams, the seemingly pro-ready Boyle might just be in line for a bigger role than that.

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