In the 2010s, 320 different wide receiver units played in the NFL. Of those, just one (the 2011 Jacksonville Jaguars) finished with fewer yards than the 2019 Baltimore Ravens wide receiver corps did. Simply put, the Ravens need more production from their wide receivers.
Incumbent Baltimore Ravens wide receiver group:
The man affectionately known as Hollywood had a solid rookie season. He failed to reach 600 yards in 14 games played. However, he did have a massive game against Miami in Week 1 on only 14 offensive snaps. In the playoffs, Brown had 126 yards on seven catches. Brown fell off late in the season, catching just 11 passes in December. Against the 49ers, Bills, and Steelers (Week 17), Brown had six catches for 14 yards. While the production was inconsistent, Brown should have a more significant role in 2020. Brown can take the top off of any defense, and he may play in the slot. Brown is a good enough route runner to run most of the route tree. In 2019, Brown was the most targeted wide receiver in Baltimore and the second-most targeted passing option behind Mark Andrews.
Snead featured in the slot last season, but he could play more boundary wide receiver this year. Snead had his moments of being a capable pass catcher, and he was a safety valve in some instances. For example, he caught six passes for 56 yards in the playoffs. Snead offers additional blocking on run plays, so he will see snaps even if he does not account for many targets. The former Saint had some productive seasons with Drew Brees as his quarterback, but it seems unlikely that he will be more than a third option in the Baltimore passing attack. In 2019, Snead was the fourth option behind Andrews, Brown, and Hayden Hurst, totaling 339 yards.
Boykin had a quiet season in 2019, only catching a handful of passes. While he did haul in a few touchdowns, Boykin didn’t see the field as much as one might expect for a former third-round pick. Similar to Snead, some of Boykin’s value lies in his blocking. Boykin could lose out on snaps to more talented options that the Ravens drafted. Boykin has the frame to be a red-zone threat or a safety valve target, but he needs to piece it together in 2020. He was not awful against Tennessee in the playoffs, but he had some miscues. Boykin had the eighth-most targets last season, falling behind three tight ends, three receivers, and Mark Ingram.
Roberts did not add much to the passing attack in 2019, but he was a valuable blocker. He had 35 targets in 16 games, and he played 50 percent of Baltimore’s snaps. In 2020, expect Snead and Boykin to consume a lot of Roberts snaps as a run blocker. Roberts is now on the Carolina Panthers.
Of course, Hurst is a tight end, but he was the third-leading receiver in Baltimore last season. With his snaps having to be allocated to other spots in the lineup, there is potential for one of the incoming options or one of the recently drafted players to have a significant role in the offense. He had 39 targets, and he played 41 percent of the snaps. In the playoffs, he caught four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore traded Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round pick that turned into running back J.K. Dobbins.
Andrews is one of the best tight ends in football, and he was a Pro Bowler in 2019. Despite only having 98 targets on the season, Andrews finished tied for second in the NFL in touchdowns with 10. In 2020, Andrews will be the leading receiver and target for Baltimore’s passing attack. He is likely to go over 100 targets for the season, and he could push 100 catches if Baltimore ramps up their passing attack. Injuries caught up to Andrews at points in last season, so he should be more consistent in 2020.
While Boyle is known primarily as a blocking tight end, he was close to being the third-leading receiver in Baltimore last season. He tied for the third-most catches, had the fourth most targets, and had the fifth-most yards. Had Hayden Hurst not broken off a 61-yard touchdown against the Bills, Boyle is likely ahead of Hurst in the receiving yards department. Boyle is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. Boyle is vital in the run game, but he can be a chain-mover for the offense as a pass-catcher.
Duvernay was drafted with the 92nd pick in the 2020 draft. Hailing from Texas, Duvernay has some of the surest hands in the draft. At Texas, he had one of the lowest drop rates in college football. While a lot of the lack of drops could be chalked up to the variety of high percentage routes, Duvernay did make some contested catches and many big players for Texas. Moving into the NFL, he projects as a slot receiver. He could knock Snead out of his incumbent position. Moving forward, Duvernay could be used as a safety valve for Lamar Jackson. He will likely be a mainstay on third downs and in the red zone. Duvernay is by no means a flawless prospect, but he does have the hands to be recognized immediately as a potential favorite for Jackson.
With a 201st pick in the draft, the Ravens took Proche out of SMU. Similar to Duvernay, Proche has vice-like hands and can catch almost anything. His highlights at SMU are some of the most jaw-dropping catches one can find in college football. His tape is very consistent, and he was used to move the chains on big third downs often for the Mustangs. Duvernay and Proche likely fill similar roles in the Baltimore offense, but both of them might see playing time. Proche also offers upside as a punt and kick returner, something the Ravens have lacked since the days of Jacoby Jones. Proche may only be the fifth wide receiver option for the Ravens, but he should find meaningful playing time as a returner or special teamer in Year 1.
It is foolish to predict anyone other than Andrews leading the team and receptions, yards, targets, and touchdowns. Barring injury, Andrews will be the most targeted player in Baltimore. Brown will likely be the deep threat option, but he could play some snaps in the slot. Snead and Boykin are two dynamic blockers who will help out in the run game. Duvernay and Proche should have clearly-defined roles that grow throughout the season as they build rapport with Jackson.
In terms of the other tight ends, Boyle and undrafted free agent Jacob Breeland, should help fill in gaps from the departure of Hurst. Boyle is a terrific dual-threat as he offers more blocking upside than Andrews does. While Breeland was an undrafted player, the Ravens have a history of having undrafted players make the final roster. If he can shine in training camp, Breeland should be the third tight end in the season.
The passing offense won’t set any records as the rushing offense could, but it should be sufficient enough to move the ball in games where Jackson or the rushing attack is bottled up. One issue the Ravens have had in the last two years is their inability to move the ball with the pass. While Jackson has shown flashes as a passer, he needs to have more consistency moving forward. If the Ravens were to win a game from behind or advance to the playoffs, they likely need someone in the passing attack to step up in a big way. Brown showed his flair for the dramatic with 126 yards in the playoffs, but the rest of the receiving corps fell flat. Baltimore does not need an elite passing attack. They simply need a passable one.
Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, and Gus Edwards will have some role in the passing attack, but outside of Hill, they are not primary passing options. While Ingram had five touchdowns last season, many of those were dump-offs rather than designed routes for Ingram. Dobbins offers slightly more upside as a pass-catcher, but if the Ravens are in a passing situation, they will likely look to Hill as a fifth receiver of sorts. Patrick Ricard offers a little bit of value in short-yardage situations. However, those plays often are the result of him not being covered rather than elite route running from the former defensive lineman.
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