The Ravens drafted wide receiver Breshad Perriman in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft. Immediately looked at by analysts and fans as a replacement for departed deep threat Torrey Smith with more upside. The Ravens then moved up to snag tight end Maxx Williams in the second round from the Pittsburgh Steelers. With tight end Dennis Pitta an unknown on whether he will ever return to football, Williams was expected to be an immediate starter for the offense. Both have even earned a little praise as possible Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates.
Yet, neither might start. Before you get all in an uproar, that isn't a bad thing.
One thing that I've seen from fans and even analysts lately is that young players, especially those taken in the early rounds, need to be labeled as a starter and make an immediate impact or be labeled a bust. Part of that comes from the Ravens' successes with their draft picks being impressive quickly and going on to be stars in the league. But it is a bit of a fallacy that young players need to be main players immediately.
For the Ravens first three picks (Perriman, Williams, Carl Davis), all of these players will undoubtedly see the field in their rookie seasons, even if they aren't labeled as starters. They were drafted where they were due to their ability to play football and because they represent positions that the Ravens felt they could upgrade. Yet, with other young players at the same position, all of these players face an uphill battle in even getting major snaps, much less being labeled as a starter.
With young players like Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, DeAndre Carter, and even Jeremy Butler all showing a lot of positives during OTAs, Perriman has to find a niche for himself in that group. He's obviously a lock to make the team, but the Ravens seem to have liked what they've seen from Butler and Aiken especially. Both are big players with good speed, in a similar mold as Perriman and will likely be used in a similar fashion.
Perriman could be moved around the field as he seems open to playing from any spot on the offense. His willingness to be a hybrid wide receiver will benefit him in the long run as it will open up the possibility of mismatches, but during his rookie season, it could see him used sparingly and only in certain offensive packages.
Williams has looked good during OTAs and we'll see a lot more of him once the Ravens get pads on during training camp. Much like Perriman, Williams has the right attitude for this team and is willing to do anything needed to see the field. Most fans have kind of forgotten about Crockett Gillmore, which is understandable, but the Ravens sure haven't. Gillmore saw a lot of action during practices and looked the part of a starting tight end. I could see that quarterback Joe Flacco was beginning to grow confidence in Gillmore and create a chemistry that might be difficult for a rookie to unseat.
Even if Dennis Pitta is unable to come back, Crockett Gillmore is the guy to beat for that starting job. Now the Ravens have utilized multiple tight end fronts in the past and could do so again this season under Marc Trestman. It will just be an uphill battle for Williams to get the starter label assigned to him if Gillmore continues to look like he has so far, and he could end up being a short yardage or red zone player in his first year.
So many fans are excited about Davis and it is easy to see why. Big and strong are the two things that are immediately apparent when looking at Davis' tape in college, but he is still very raw. Davis probably has one of the better chances to be in a rotation as the Ravens like to keep defensive linemen fresh all season long by limiting their snaps and substituting guys in packages depending on the situation. However, the Ravens do already have a pretty set defensive line with Brandon Williams, Chris Canty/Brent Urban, and Timmy Jernigan.
Again, Davis will certainly be in the rotation during the season, but being a starter isn't likely for him unless an injury happens somewhere and the Ravens feel good enough about him to push him up there. Davis could see starting games by year three as that is usually when the Ravens cycle through defensive linemen that get big contracts elsewhere.
Even without being a starter, each of these players will definitely see the field in 2015. Right now, it is too early to tell in what capacity each player will be used, but the Ravens drafted these players for a reason. Getting used to the speed and intensity of the game is hard to do, so easing them in during their rookie campaigns is actually the best thing for the players and the Ravens. They will get some meaningful snaps, provide much needed depth, create mismatches in certain situations and grow to know the 'Ravens way'. Even if they can't start in 2015, the future looks incredibly bright for each player in the coming years.