As we begin Training Camp, one of the most intriguing positions on the Ravens is at Tight End. The wealth of talent is something unlike we've seen in franchise history. With the Ravens carrying three or even four TIght Ends going into Week 1, Joe Flacco should have no shortage of weapons in the 2016 season.
The Ravens Tight Ends corps caught just five touchdowns in 2015, but their young TE's showed promise. Rookies Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle showed flashes of brilliance, which should give Ravens fans confidence moving forward. Below, I'll take a look at each Tight End and where they fit in on this roster.
Benjamin Watson was signed in the offseason in a 2-year $8 million deal. Watson, 35, is a veteran coming off a breakout year with the Saints. In 2015, Watson made 74 receptions including six touchdowns, while averaging 11.1 yards per reception. Watson is the projected starter at Tight End, and even if he doesn't have the same numbers as last year, he provides a veteran influence and leadership on offense that the young guys on the Ravens squad need. Watson may be 35 years old, but can still play at a high level and should give the Ravens a legitimate middle-of-the-field threat.
Crockett Gillmore lead the Ravens in Tight Ends touchdown receptions with four last season. Gillmore is back from injury (like many other Ravens) and ready to regain his 2015 form. Gillmore's imposing size probably makes him the most phyiscal TE who can pass and run block on the team. His versatility alone gives OC Marc Trestman some extra options that could open up holes in the passing game. He projects as the 2nd string TE, but it wouldn't surprise me if Gillmore gets more snaps as the season progresses.
Maxx Williams enters his sophomore season with the ability to take the next step. Williams was the Ravens 2nd-Rounder last year and has potential to be a stud. The problem for Williams might be that there is too much talent at the Tight End position, so he'll have to prove himself by reaching his potential in order to have more targets in 2016. He might be the most interesting/underrated TE on the roster and fans should be excited to see what Williams can bring to the table this season.
Dennis Pitta might play football again?! Pitta is finally health and ready to take the field. Many might be reluctant to believe he can regain form, but Pitta could prove the doubters wrong. Pitta and Flacco are best friends and Pitta is Flacco's favorite target. I see him currently ranking 4th on the depth chart, because he's been off the field consistently the last few years. Pitta could rise up the ranks throughout training camp and the preseason if he can showcase both health and performance. Pitta was crucial to the 2012 Super Bowl run and the Ravens are hoping he can come close to that same player this season.
Both Darren Waller and the aforementioned Nick Boyle will be suspended at the start of the 2016 NFL Season for 4 and 10 games respectively. Waller was suspended for substance abuse and will find difficulty finding a spot on the Ravens roster at the conclusion of his suspension. But this dude can really play. Converted from a wide receiver, Waller has downfield, big gain ability. Boyle showed some dominance in spurts last year, and after a 10 game suspension (performance-enhancing policy) will also need to fit in on the 53-man. His physicality alone might push him on the team as the Ravens have shone their willingness to stick with him.
It's difficult to see the two suspended players coming back on the 53-man roster this year, let alone all four TE's currently on the depth chart. In fact, baltimoreravens.com's Ryan Mink said on the Purple Reign Podcast last night, that the Ravens could consider a trade, if they decide not to hold onto all four Tight Ends to start the season. One thing is for certain: With a healthy Joe Flacco and a plethora of talent, the Ravens should expect major production out of the Tight End position for the 2016 Season.