Answer: Well, I’ve already eluded to the fact that Boykin could be on his way out in Baltimore. The big problem for him is that he was basically replaced with two players. Watkins was brought in to be the X receiver opposite of Marquise Brown. What do you think Bateman is going to do? Boykin has his own brand of trouble.
James Proche has a set of problems too. Before the draft things were looking promising for Proche. Willie Snead was gone and there was one less receiver that could offer what he brings to the table. While Devin Duvernay was clearly ahead of him, Proche was presumably looking at his chance. The Watkins signing didn’t affect Proche. Now Proche has to compete with Duvernay and Tylan Wallace.
Both Duvernay and Wallace are essentially promised a roster spot. While Boykin and Proche are both in a tough spot, Proche doesn’t have much going for him. Duvernay became the return specialist. Boykin can move to a tight end. Boykin blocks well enough that the Ravens can play around with that idea.
I’ve kind of talked myself into Villanueva. While I think both players offer a lot of similar value, I’m more familiar with Villanueva. The Ravens are too, as they’ve played him twice per season for a while.
@bigmoney323 asks: Do you really want Villanueva? The Steelers let go of him for a reason, right?
Answer: The Steelers made a handful of decisions that they didn’t want to make because of their situation with the salary cap. Look how close JuJu Smith-Schuster came to being with another team.
They only brought back their best receiver because of how the market played out for him. Villanueva wasn’t in their long-term plans and it was a sensible parting of the ways. Villanueva’s availability doesn’t mean he’s not still good at his job.
@Thgirw_Gnagflow asks: With this revamped receiving core and alleged scheme change after this year do we resign Gus Edwards/sign/draft his replacement for the 1-2 punch? Or do we sign/draft for depth and allow J.K. Dobbins to take the lion’s share of carries and save resources for other positions?
Answer: The Ravens aren’t going to commit long-term to Gus Edwards. The organization loves Edwards. He was an undrafted free agent who has done incredible things for the Purple and Black. He’s only still here because he’s an affordable asset for the offense.
The Ravens shuffle through running backs. They get a patch of production and then they move on. The only ones who really ever stick around are the special ones. It’s basically just been Ray Rice and Jamal Lewis before that. Dobbins has a chance to be one of the special ones.
The Ravens will get one more strong season out of Edwards. Then he will go elsewhere at a number the Ravens aren’t willing to pay. The Ravens will draft another running back. Dobbins will be the number one running back. If he’s one of the special ones (and it’s starting to look that way) he’ll stick around for a couple of contracts.
@cancelpennies asks: Lots of talk about Boykin’s only shot being a tight end conversion, but seems like we’re pretty set at that position. Barring an insane camp, is Boykin’s story w the Ravens all but finished?
Answer: Okay, we’ve danced all over the Boykin thing already. I can’t claim I don’t know what’s on your minds, that’s for sure. Let’s dive into the whole moving him to tight end thing. Boykin is a big-bodied target who obviously isn’t eating on the outside. If Boykin is going to get going it looks like the change of positions is all that will get it done.
The one good thing for Boykin is that he doesn’t cost anything. He’s still on his rookie contract and he was a third-round pick. He’s a really solid blocker. For all the complaints about his lack of boxing out defensive backs as a pass-catcher, his effort as a blocker is strong.
If the Ravens move him to tight end it depends on who the Ravens value at that position. If it’s Ben Mason and Eric Tomlinson behind Nick Boyle and Mark Andrews, then it’s not the answer Boykin wants to hear.