2015 NFL Draft: Baltimore Ravens Options at Tight End


It is well documented that the Baltimore Ravens are in need of help at tight end. Owen Daniels has continued to follow Gary Kubiak, and the unknown status of Dennis Pitta leaves the Ravens with serious question marks at the position.

The Ravens currently have second-year players in Crockett Gilmore and Phillip Supernaw on the roster, but the duo has just one NFL start between them. The team hasn’t shown much interest in the free agents available this offseason, meaning they could have shifted focus to the NFL Draft.

This year’s class of tight end prospects is an interesting bunch. It is believed that there is one player who is a sure thing, but after that there are a lot of unknowns. It is considered a weak class, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options out there who could help the Ravens. While Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh could go with the top option in this draft, there is some value in the later rounds.

Maxx Williams, Minnesota

Williams is the headliner of the upcoming draft class and has all the physical traits that NFL scouts covet. At 6-foot-4 and 247 pounds, he has all the talent as a pass-catcher and a blocker, and that’s what separates him from the rest of the group. His speed has the ability to stretch defenses, and his size makes him an effective option in the red zone also. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah compared him to a former tight end for the Ravens, Todd Heap:

"“When I watched him, I saw a lot of Todd Heap because of his penchant to make special catches,” Jeremiah said. “Maxx Williams, though, may be a little better blocker coming out. Heap may (have had) a little more top speed. But I love the way Williams is a hands catcher.”"

Ravens fans will certainly take another Pro Bowl tight end for the next decade, and two members of our staff projected the Ravens to select Williams at No. 26. He is NFL ready, and could immediately slide into the Ravens starting lineup if the team chooses to go that route.

Clive Walford, Miami

Walford has decent hands and is a solid blocker, but lacks the quickness to separate himself at the NFL level. He has a tendency to drop passes and his speed won’t make an impact against linebackers or safeties. He will make his mark as a blocker, and with some team’s transitioning into more two tight end sets, Walford could be a valuable asset. He is certainly capable of enjoying an average career, but won’t make a major impact. If you’re expecting him to be as good as some of the other tight ends to come from The U, you will be disappointed. He’s projected to be selected in the late second to early third rounds.

Tyler Kroft, Rutgers

Kroft is the most unpolished tight end in the class, but has the potential to reward the team that hopes to develop his raw skills. He has terrific size at 6-foot-6 and his quickness allows him to make plays after the catch. After a terrific 2013 season in which he earned him first-team All-America honors, he was used more as a blocker in 2014 and his numbers dropped from 43 receptions with four touchdowns to just 24 catches with zero scores. He suffered an injury before the combine and wasn’t able to participate, but did well enough at his Pro Day to impress. He has the size to fill out his athletic frame and could develop into a player similar to Jimmy Graham. If the Ravens are willing to take a late round flyer on a player who will not make an impact immediately, Kroft could be there guy.

Nick O’Leary, Florida State

O’Leary was the security blanket for the presumed top selection in QB Jameis Winston. He lacks the ideal size for the position, and some teams view him more as an H-back than tight end. He is not a good blocker because of his lack of size, and Florida State’s style of offense did not force him to block much. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in athleticism and strong hands. He also comes from a lineage of athletes as his grandfather is legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus. Most scouts and analysts project him to be off the board in the fourth to fifth round.

Ben Koyack, Notre Dame

Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame program have been pumping out tight end prospects of their own as of late. Koyack is the next in line after Tyler Eifert, who was the Cincinnati Bengals first-round pick in the 2013 draft. Koyack has great hands and excels as a run blocker, but lacks the game-changing speed that Eifert is known for. Koyack’s size and ability to pluck balls out of the air will make him a weapon in the end zone. He should still be on the board in the fourth or fifth rounds.

It remains to be seen where the Ravens decide to get help at the position. Jermaine Gresham remains a free agent, but is coming off an injury. If the team does not sign him, drafting a tight end is almost inevitable. It wouldn’t be far-fetched for the organization to select one of the names above on draft day. We are a little over two weeks away from better understanding how the position will stack up for the upcoming season.

Next: Forget what others do, follow the Ravens draft plans

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