After Thursday's practice at the Baltimore Ravens Rookie Mini-Camp, the two new tight ends were at the podium to take questions from the media. The Ravens needed help for veteran Todd Heap and neither veteran LJ Smith nor rookie Davon Drew provided what the team needed last season. Drew had every opportunity to be the next great TE in Baltimore, following Shannon Sharpe and Heap, but reported to 2009 Training Camp out of shape and never lived up to the value of being drafted by the team.
So the Ravens used their third round draft pick in April's NFL Draft to take Ed Dickson (Oregon) and then surprised everyone by taking another tight end, Dennis Pitta (BYU) in the fourth round. Taking two tight ends in back-to-back rounds might have been a surprise to fans (and media), but now the team goes from this being a weakness in their offense to now one of their stronger positions in terms of depth.
While both guys are relatively similar in size, they bring different skill sets to the offensive equation. Dickson is known as the faster pass catcher, but Pitta has the reputation of catching everything thrown in his direction. Tough choices for the team to have to make for playing time, but it will be interesting to see how these two guys complement each other as well as Heap, as they will challenge oposing defenses as matchup nightmares.
I had an opportunity to ask both guys similar questions and they both seem to highlight the speed of the game and getting it to slow down as they get further along the pro level "learning curve."
Here is how they responded to my questions:
Beatdown: "After these few Mini-Camps, what is still the toughest adjustment from the colege to the pro level?"
Dickson: "Just the speed. It’s like playing in the All-Star game. Everybody is just as fast and stuff like that. So, you’ve got to master your technique in order to keep up with these guys."
Pitta: "I think it’s just the knowledge that you have to have – knowledge of what the defense is doing, knowledge of what your assignment is, and the reads that you have to make at the line of scrimmage. I think the toughest part still is being able to process all of that information before the snap. That’s something that takes time. Certainly, you can study all you want, but it’s about getting those repetitions and being able to process it that quickly before the ball is hiked. And so, that’s the biggest challenge, I think for me, right now and for some of the other rookies."