Given Mark Andrews’ perennial dominance in the Ravens’ passing game, it shouldn’t be surprising that Baltimore took a pass-catching TE2, Charlie Kolar, with pick No. 128 to potentially serve as Andrews’ heir.
More unexpected, though, was seeing Baltimore draft yet another tight end in Isaiah Likely with pick No. 139.
In the fourth round of the draft, the Ravens double-dipped on tight end before selecting their first wide receiver, raising mild concerns about what the team’s offense will look like in 2022.
Kolar and Likely boast more impressive pass-catching ability than blocking ability, so on paper we’d expect a surplus of 3-tight end sets this season. The two rookie tight ends also possess the athleticism and speed to split out wide if needed, so Lamar Jackson shouldn’t have any shortage of targets this season.
The Ravens draft not one but two pass-catching tight ends in the fourth round
The Ravens’ current tight end room consists of Andrews, Nick Boyle, and Josh Oliver, but Boyle’s tenure in Baltimore has been riddled with injuries while Oliver hardly made a dent in 14 games played last season.
Taking one tight end in the fourth round was to be expected, but two tight end prospects seem unnecessary, especially given the team’s gaping hole at wide receiver.
Remember, Baltimore’s current WR1 is 2021 first-rounder Rashod Bateman, who could enjoy a breakout season this year but nonetheless lacks the seasoned experience to lead a receiver corps.
With the looming wide receiver question yet to be answered, the Ravens seem content with adopting more tight end-heavy offensive plays that employ Andrews, Kolar, and Likely on the field at the same time.
Kolar, the higher drafted tight end, is already familiar with multiple tight ends sets at Iowa State and shows the most potential as a formidable red-zone target.
His 23 career touchdown catches rank third-most in his college’s history, and Kolar’s wide catch radius and contested-catch ability should help him find immediate success behind Andrews.
Likely also offers extreme versatility in a tight end-focused offense and even used to play wide receiver in high school.
The three-year starter at Coastal Carolina could be described more as an oversized wideout than a traditional tight end, and his YAC ability makes him a surprisingly dangerous threat anywhere on the field: in his senior season, Likely recorded 14 catches of 20-plus yards, including a jaw-dropping 99-yard touchdown run.
Both Kolar and Likely must improve their respective blocking skills, but both appear to fit extremely well in Baltimore’s tight end-friendly scheme.
If Kolar and Likely can generate even half the chemistry Andrews has with Jackson, the Ravens should have nothing to worry about this season.