The Baltimore Ravens are entering the home stretch of the season with a 2-7 record after their 22-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and they have to evaluate players as the team will miss the playoffs for only the second time in the last eight seasons.
The Ravens are on the verge of having their first losing season under head coach John Harbaugh. However, that doesn't mean that this team doesn't have talented players. They do. Here are the five players on the Ravens roster who are on the rise.
1.) Tight end Crockett Gillmore
Crockett Gillmore has taken over the number spot at the tight end position but it hasn't been easy. Gillmore, a 2014 third round draft pick, has improved greatly in his second year using his size and speed to get open against defensive backs and linebackers. He is a violent runner. He literally drags defenders on his way to the ground. Very seldom will one defensive player take Gillmore down by himself. His connection with quarterback Joe Flacco will continue to improve as the season goes along and beyond.
2.) Tight end Nick Boyle
Rookie tight end Nick Boyle has been a welcomed surprise as a fifth round pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Boyle has turned into a clutch player for Flacco finding the open lane for a clean route on third down and fourth down conversions. Boyle is very athletic hurdling over defenders and he is very willing to dish out punishment.
The Ravens probably weren't expecting this kind of production so early with Boyle, but he has been what the Ravens have been looking for with veteran tight end Dennis Pitta continuing to nurse a hip injury that is putting his career in question.
3.) Tight end Maxx Williams
Is it safe to say that the tight end position for the Ravens is a strong suit? Maxx Williams, drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft is improving as the season goes on. Williams was regarded as the best tight end coming out the draft and his run blocking ability provides many reasons why people are very high on him.
Williams has the size and speed similar to Gillmore to give opposing defenders problems. He isn't afraid to go over the middle and he has shown early in his career that he knows the difference between man coverage and zone coverage.
4.) Nose tackle Brandon Williams
When former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was traded to the Detroit Lions during the 2015 offseason, all eyes turned to Brandon Williams. Brandon Williams hasn't disappointed this season. In fact, with all of the struggles the Ravens have had this year on defense, he has been the most consistent player on the unit.
Brandon Williams is going to be a big reason why the Ravens are on their way to have their 20th consecutive season of holding opponents to 4.0 yard per carry or lower on this defense which is an NFL record that the Ravens already hold at 19 straight years and counting.
5.) Strong safety Will Hill
Hill may not always be in the right spot in coverage, but he has emerged over the last couple of weeks as the enforcer on the Ravens defense. Hill brings an attitude to the Ravens secondary which is greatly needed on a unit that is missing an identity arguably for the first time since the 1996-1997 seasons.
This flip won't get old.
He got tossed so hard https://t.co/TpmTtVmkTC— Comedy Central (@ThirtySecComedy) November 16, 2015