When the Baltimore Ravens selected Kyle Juszczyk in the 2013 NFL Draft, it was evident the plan that would be in place for the fullback from Harvard University.
He would receive limited playing time while veteran fullback Vonta Leach garnered the majority of playing time as a run blocker, and sometimes as a pass-catching threat in Jim Caldwell's offense. Less than a year later, the Ravens paved the way for Juszczyk to become the primary fullback when the team released Leach this offseason.
When Caldwell left to become the next head coach of the Detroit Lions, the Ravens turned to a veteran play-caller in Gary Kubiak, whose offense thrives off of play-action passes. But a big component of his offense is having a hybrid fullback who can play the role as a passing tight end in some short and intermediate routes.
Juszczyk is primed to fill the role that James Casey played with the Texans. Casey, who played his first four seasons in Houston, measures at 6'3, 240 pounds. Juszczyk displays similar physical characteristics, is measured at 6'1 and weights 248 pounds.
What allows Juszczyk to make himself stand out is the physical style of football that the Ravens organization covets, but also his athleticism that allows him to cover plenty of ground on the football field. He reiterated this offseason that his production was limited during his rookie season because he didn't take advantage of the opportunities presented to him. In his first season with the Ravens, his primary work was focused on being a quality special teams player.
Juszczyk echoed his frustrations in an interview with BaltimoreRavens.com
"They gave me an opportunity, they gave me some reps, and I don’t think I took advantage," Juszczyk said after the 2013 season ended. "That’s something I can build on for next season."
"Obviously I wish I could have gotten more involved on the offensive side. I take the blame for that."
It remains to be seen how many reps he'll see at the tight end spots, especially if Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels stay healthy. Nontheless, expect Juszczyk to gain more chances in the Ravens offense this upcoming season.