By Jack Drapkin
It’s time for the young skill position talent of the Ravens to step up. General Manager Ozzie Newsome sent a clear message to the young players he drafted in the previous two drafts. Time to step up.
Maxx Williams, Crockett Gillmore, and Breshad Perriman. are on the clock this year. When Newsome, didn’t select a single skill position player in the 2017 NFL Draft many fans were concerned. However, Newsome is relying on his young crop of skill guys to step up. Call his decision to not draft anyone at these positions a vote of confidence.
The problem for all three of these young players in their early careers has been injuries.
Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a prolonged knee injury but rebounded to play in all 16 games last year recording 33 receptions and nearly 500 receiving yards. His return in 2016 and blazing speed make him the best bet to produce for the Ravens next season.
The pair of tight ends, Maxx Williams and Crockett Gilmore are the biggest enigmas to me to start the season.
Let’s start with Gilmore who’s a favorite of mine. In theory, he has the rare combination of receiving and blocking ability to be a top-10 tight end in the league. However, a litany of injuries has caused him to struggle to establish himself as a premier target for Joe Flacco.
Williams, on the other hand, was drafted to be a receiving threat. After posting only 268 receiving yards in his rookie year and recording no stats this past season it’s time to prove he belongs in this league in 2017.
With Dennis Pitta’s hip forcing him to retirement someone needs to step up at tight end for the Ravens and I am not betting that it’s going to be the 36 – year old Ben Watson coming off an Achilles injury.
With the recent injuries of Kenneth Dixon and Joe Flacco, the health of these players and their performance becomes critical for a Ravens team looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.