With only 2 days until the start of the Baltimore Ravens training camp in Westminster, Maryland we take a look at what I think will be the 5 most important position battles throughout the month. The 2nd most important battle to watch out for during the month of August will be between two rookies, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, both Tight Ends taken in the 2010 draft by Baltimore.
Baltimore has always been a team that relies very much its Tight Ends to help move the ball in the run first offense that we have always had. Veteran Todd Heap had one of his best seasons in recent memory last year where he was able to play in all 16 games and put up 6 scores throughout the year. However, there was no one behind Heap last year, so Baltimore got lucky that there was not an injury to their starter. To make sure that we would be setup if an injury to Heap does happen or even find Heap's replacement for the future, Ozzie Newsome spent two draft picks on Tight Ends Ed Dickson and Dennis pitta. Not only does this give us great depth, but it expands the offense for Joe Flacco so much more. For being the run first offense that we are, we have very rarely seen the 3 tight end set used and the 2 tight end set used effectively. With two very different, but dynamic rookies coming into the picture, this could be a big year at the Tight End position.
Let's take a closer look at the battle between Dickson and Pitta
Ed Dickson - 6'4" - 250 lbs - Rookie
ED DICKSON STATS Receiving Statistics No Yds Avg TD 2009 42 551 13.1 6 2008 35 508 14.5 3 2007 43 453 10.5 3 2006 4 45 11.3 0 2005 0 0 0.0 0 Career 124 1,557 12.6 12
- The Ravens spent the 70th overall pick in the 3rd round on the Oregon product. Dickson was one of the best athletes at the Tight End position coming out of the draft and it was noticed by Baltimore. Director of player personnel Eric DeCosta had this to say about Dickson,
He ran a sub-4.6 [40-yard dash] at the Combine, which is very good for a tight end. He can stretch the field. He’s got very good hands and catching range. He’s a big target. We think he’s got loads of promise as a receiving tight end, and we think he’s a pretty good blocker, too. He’s going to develop in that regard. He’s often detached from the line of scrimmage, but we think this is a guy who’s going to be a three-down tight end for us.
- What Dickson will need to do: First off, Dickson will need to show us that he can handle the different blocking schemes we have for the Tight End in our offense. I have heard that Dickson is an above average blocker already, but this is always something you want to improve on at this level. People may doubt his blocking abilities, but look at it this way. During Dickson's time at Oregon, there was a 1,000 yard rusher each season, so he had to have been doing something right. Because of the athlete that Dickson is, he should be able to show coaches that he can be a down field threat at TE. We want to be able to use every bit of his speed and length to stretch the field as much as possible.
Dennis Pitta - 6'4" - 245 lbs - Rookie
DENNIS PITTA STATS Receiving Statistics No Yds Avg TD 2009 62 829 13.4 8 2008 83 1,083 13.0 6 2007 59 813 13.8 5 2004 17 176 10.4 2 Career 221 2,901 13.1 21
- After drafting Ed Dickson in the 3rd round, the Ravens spent a 4th round pick on BYU Tight End Dennis Pitta, giving the Ravens depth at the position they have never seen. The first thing that comes to mind when watching Pitta is that he is the conventional Tight End who does all the dirty work. Director of college scouting, Joe Hortiz, had this to say about Pitta
He lines up in the slot and at traditional tight end. He’s got outstanding hands. In the five or six games I’ve watched him, he dropped one ball. He’s a real savvy route runner and just knows how to get open versus a zone. He’s quick and sudden enough to be a mismatch versus linebackers, and he just brings that flexibility to an offense where you can line him up on the line or put him out in the slot.
What Pitta will need to do: One of the most important things for Pitta to show coaches is that he can be that guy who will go across the middle, make the tough 5-8 yard catch and secure the ball. Pitta is not the greatest athlete out there, but he understands how to get space and was said to have the best hands of any Tight End coming out of the draft. We need to see all those things if Pitta wants to win this job.
Others in contention to be involved in the battle: Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody (in goal line situations)
Who wins the battle?: To be honest, I have a feeling that we will see Dennis Pitta as the primary backup to Todd Heap and the team's number 2 Tight End. This is not a knock on Ed Dickson what so ever, but Dickson to me seems like the guy we will be moving around all over the field while Pitta seems to be the more traditional tight end. If lining up next to the tackle, I think Pitta will do a better job of that while Dickson will be the type of tight end that we line up wide. Both players are going to be huge contributors to this offense in 2010.