In a year that has been all but stellar so far, the Ravens have had a few special standouts during this disappointing first half of the year. The Ravens are looking to rebound and make a push for the playoffs, but let's stop and look at some of the players that have stood out so far and the awards for them:
Most Improved: Crockett Gillmore
Gillmore, as banged up as he has been, has become a great piece in the Ravens' offense thus far. After last year's departure of Owen Daniels, Crockett inherited the starting position at tight end. He has shown Gronk-esqe abilities not only being a threat to catch the ball, but also punishing any defender in his way. Gillmore usually takes 3 or more defenders to bring down in the open field, and I cannot wait to see what he can do in the future.
Offensive Rookie OTY: Javorius "Buck" Allen
Allen has done a great job backing up Justin Forsett in the Ravens' backfield with the loss of Lorenzo Taliaferro. Buck took his opportunity by storm. Buck has quickly won over the hearts of the Ravens' fan base with his physical runs and flashes of speed when Forsett needs a break. The decision to make Buck the top offensive rookie wasn't an easy one, as Nick Boyle has also performed well over the first half of the season. Ultimately Buck was chosen due to his overall impact on the game whether it be catching the ball out of the backfield running it up the middle.
Defensive Rookie OTY: Za'Darius Smith
Smith has been a pleasant surprise thus far this season at outside linebacker, notching 20 tackles and 2 sacks in his rookie campaign. Za'Darius was thrusted into the lineup after Terrell Suggs went down with a torn achilles. Fans were concerned about a lack of a pass rush and Za'Darius has played well considering the shoes he had to fill. Za'Darius has far outperformed the other defensive rookies on the roster, which has earned his DROY award.
Defensive Player OTY: Will Hill III
Will Hill has been the only consistent player on defense, and has been a major difference maker in the secondary thus far. The guy is playing incredible football and is now considered a top-5 safety in the league. Hill has been one of the only bright spots in the Ravens' secondary, while Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb have struggled all year and Hill has done a phenomenal job of stepping up and leading the group.
Offensive Player OTY and MVP: Steve Smith Sr.
Will anybody argue with this? Steve has by far been the best offensive player and most valuable on the team, nearly doubling all of the other receivers stats combined. Steve has been the heart and soul of the entire Ravens team thus far, it's terrible that he had to go down with the achilles tear and possibly end what has been a long and prosperous career. It's a shame to see such a great player have it end like that, but I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of Steve. Steve, whatever you decide to do, just know that everyone appreciates what you've done for the team and wishes you the best.