Baltimore Ravens: Surplus Of Talent At Tight End
The Baltimore Ravens have clearly been focused on the tight end position. They signed Benjamin Watson early in NFL Free Agency. They have moved Darren Waller from wide receiver to tight end. The Ravens seem to think the tight end position is one of paramount importance in their offense.
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The Ravens have always been at their best when they had a great tight end. First it was Shannon Sharpe, who was of extreme importance in the Ravens Super Bowl run. Than it was Todd Heap, who is now in the ring of honor at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens relied heavily on Dennis Pitta in their second path to Super Bowl glory.
Now Pitta is still under contract with the Ravens, though it remains doubtful that he will ever play football again. On June 1st, the team could come to a resolution that sees Pitta cut from the roster. Moving forward the Ravens have Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams and Darren Waller to play tight end. They also have Nick Boyle who is suspended for the first ten games of the season; though it looks like the Ravens are prepared to move on without the Delaware tight end.
The Ravens quarterback from Delaware, has plenty of help at the tight end position. Flacco has always loved utilizing tight ends. Todd Heap was his security blanket. Pitta is one of his best friends, but also was one of his must trusted targets. Owen Daniels was somebody that the Ravens turned to when they needed a big first down reception in 2014. Flacco loves throwing to tight ends, which explains the Ravens recent fascination with this type of weapon.
Watson is expected to be the Ravens go to weapon not named Steve Smith Sr. next season. Watson has the speed and size to give defensive coordinators fits. He is a player the Ravens can lean on in tough third down situations.
Watson caught 84 passes last season. It was the best statistical season of the 32 year old tight end. He looks like he is perfect condition for another great season, despite being old for NFL standards.
Crockett Gillmore should be the Ravens second tight end. He should get a fair amount of playing time because I foresee the Ravens using a good bit of two tight end sets. Marc Trestman and the Ravens probably want to get the offense back to what made it successful in 2014. That means using your tight ends and dominating on the ground.
Gillmore had an interesting 2015 season. Playing in 10 games, he had 33 receptions for 412 yards and 4 touchdowns. Gillmore showed that he has great potential moving forward. He had three games which he caught 5 passes last year. In two of those games he eclipsed the 100 yard mark receiving. Gillmore had a two touchdown game against the Oakland Raiders, early in the season. Excitingly, he showed big play potential as he averaged 12.5 yards per catch.
Maxx Williams and Darren Waller are the two players who need to find out where their role in the offense will be. Waller is kind of a hybrid of a receiver and a tight end. He has a huge 6’6″ 245 pound frame. At wide receiver he doesn’t have breakaway speed. At the tight end position he has above average speed. Waller is a project and if the Ravens work pays off, he could become a star.
Williams is 6’4″ and weighs 250 pounds. He has speed at the tight end position that makes him a very intriguing player who is still developing. His production was pretty much on par with Gillmore. He had 32 receptions for 268 yards and 1 touchdown. Gillmore got more opportunities to make plays down the field despite the similar reception totals.
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The Ravens now have a surplus of talent at the tight end position. It would be wise to expect the Ravens to use their tight ends a lot in 2016. There may be many question marks at the wide receiver position but the Ravens will go into the 2016 season with four weapons at the tight end position.