The Baltimore Ravens drafted James Proche in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. While many people saw this as a steal that would allow the Ravens to capitalize right away, Proche did basically nothing in his rookie season.
Proche was targeted three times in the entire season. He had one reception for 14 yards. Devin Duvernay (who was used a little less sparingly but still not enough) took over the punt returning duties. Proche’s rookie season was wasted.
Going into his second season the Ravens have nothing at the NFL level to evaluate him on. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. They didn’t give him a chance. To a degree this makes sense. Proche was a raw rookie who wasn’t going to steal snaps from Willie Snead. Duvernay had more speed and passing wasn’t the priority for the offense.
One of the common complaints about the Ravens is that they don’t develop players well at the wide receiver position. There is a thing to be said for gaining experience in your rookie season. Proche was never going to steal the show, but you would think the Ravens would want to get him some confidence as a rookie.
Keeping Proche uninvolved was a choice. Not being at “The Castle” every day it’s hard to say why the coaching staff made that change. Maybe they didn’t like what they saw from Proche in practice. Maybe he was never really part of the plan.
From the outside, it doesn’t make sense why that decision would be made. The Ravens struggled with drops. Proche had one of the lowest drop rates in the history of College Football. The Ravens were looking for play-makers all season long and Proche was the go-to weapon at SMU.
Proche had two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in his last two years at SMU. In 2019 he scored 15 touchdowns and had over 100 receptions. Is it a big jump from SMU to the NFL? You bet. However, a college star of Proche’s caliber should be able to translate some of that to the NFL immediately.
Even if Proche wasn’t completely ready to shine, he wasn’t completely raw. Proche showed good route running and his hands have never been an issue. You’d think the Ravens would get him at least 10-15 receptions this year. They could have, there wasn’t a long line of receivers stepping up.
You could make this case that the Ravens almost wasted the season for Devin Duvernay as well, but at least he got involved. Duvernay had 20 receptions. Baltimore got a sneak peek from Duivernay and they didn’t even get a tease from Proche.
The Bottom Line:
The Ravens wasted this season from James Proche. They absolutely wasted it. They got nothing out of drafting him in 2020. The Ravens basically just pushed his rookie season a year back. This is happening at a position that is perennially a desperate need for the Ravens.
That is a bad look. It doesn’t matter how you boil it down, the Ravens didn’t give Proche an opportunity in a year they desperately needed more at the wide receiver position.