Going into the 2017 season, there were high expectations for several Ravens players. Many guys such as, Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, and Matt Judon met or even exceeded expectations. This list will feature players who completely surprised everyone this year, and those who completely fell flat.
Most surprising rookie: Patrick Ricard
Who would have guessed that an undrafted defensive lineman would be playing fullback for the Ravens this season? Ricard is a monster of a man for the position, and has helped greatly in run blocking. The defensive end turned tight end has caught back-to-back touchdown passes in the past two weeks. He rarely ever sees snaps on defense anymore. Like I said, who would have guessed?
Most disappointing rookie: Tim Williams
When Baltimore selected pass rusher Tim Williams out of Alabama in the third round, I think many people believed it could be the steal of the draft. Williams was viewed by many as the best pass rusher, but he was extremely raw and needed time to develop his game for the next level. Tim was mocked to go in the first round by several people, but some off the field concerns dropped him into the Ravens laps in round three. He hasn’t recorded a sack yet this season, and has been a healthy scratch on more than one occasion. We all knew he needed to develop, but he’s been extremely disappointing still. Given time, I believe Tim Williams can be a force on the edge, but his rookie campaign wouldn’t support that claim.
Most surprising sophomore: Willie Henry
Honorable mention: Chris Moore
Willie Henry was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, and saw virtually no playing time in the regular season, eventually landing on injured reserve. Going into this season, the defensive line was overly crowded for the Ravens, and Henry was a player speculated as trade bait. After injuries to Brent Urban and Brandon Williams however, Henry heard his name called. He answered with a statement and hasn’t looked back since. He has become a force up front, and has forced and recovered fumbles to go with a few sacks. Not many people probably expected him to contribute much, if at all, this season. He has filled the vacancy of Tim Jernigan quite nicely, and could be a key defensive player going forward.
Most disappointing sophomore: Kamalei Correa
Honorable mention: Bronson Kaufusi
Correa was drafted in the second round last year as an outside linebacker. The Ravens transitioned him to inside though, and let’s just say it hasn’t payed off. After the emotional and sudden forced retirement of Zach Orr, the Ravens needed to find a new guy to put next to C.J. Mosley. Correa was the favorite to win the job going into the season, but ultimately lost it to undrafted sophomore Patrick Onwuasor. Since completely losing the role a few weeks into the season, Correa has been pretty much limited to special teams. You want a little more production from a second round pick. Maybe he could still pan out, but I’m not holding out hope for it.
Most disappointing free agent signing: Jeremy Maclin
Honorable mention: Tony Jefferson
The Ravens desperately needed a wide receiver after the retirement of Steve Smith and departure of Kamar Aiken. After ignoring the position in the free agency frenzy, and the draft, having veteran Jeremy Maclin fall into their laps right before the season started seemed to be a miracle. Maclin has definitely underwhelmed however. With only three games remaining, he only has 418 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is constantly injured, even if it only keeps him out a play or two. Maclin failed the Ravens big time in the loss to the Steelers this past Sunday when he went down with an injury on the final drive and forced the Ravens to use their final timeout, but came back almost immediately just to fail to keep his feet in bounds on a routine sideline catch that would have put the Ravens in field goal range to win the game. Most Ravens fans expected Maclin to be the #1 receiver, but that title has yet again gone to Mike Wallace.
Most surprising overall: Alex Collins
Honorable mention: James Hurst, Ryan Jensen
Second year player Kenneth Dixon was favored to win the starting running back role over Terrance West this season before he went down with a season ending knee injury while practicing. Fast forward to now and fellow second year RB Alex Collins has the position locked up. How did this happen? Collins was waived by Seattle after his rookie season with them and landed on Baltimore’s practice squad. In week 3 against Jacksonville, Collins made his first appearance for the Ravens late in the game. He flashed instantly, and aside from some early fumbles, has had a fantastic season. He looks the part of a top 10 running back in the league, and could very well be the future at the position for Baltimore.
Despite not taking the starting role until several weeks into the season, Collins has 825 rushing yards, 121 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns. He has caught the league by surprise and only gets better every week it seems. His angry running style, combined with his breakaway speed, and elusive footwork make him incredibly fun to watch. Terrance West has been a healthy scratch for several games now, and it’s safe to say he will be looking for another team next year. Collins and Dixon could be a great duo in the future.
Most disappointing overall: Breshad Perriman
2015 first round pick Breshad Perriman missed all of his rookie season due to injuries, but came back to have a solid season last year. After the retirement of Steve Smith, the Ravens were in need of another top WR. Perriman was pegged as the guy who would step up and fill that role. Boy, was everyone wrong though. He has struggled mightily this season with only 54 yards, 0 touchdowns, and helping to cause at least two interceptions that I can remember.
Perriman has been on the bench for several weeks now in hopes that it will motivate him to perform like everyone knows he is capable of. Some of the catches he made last year were jaw dropping, and his downfield speed is incredible. That talent didn’t just suddenly leave his body, so it has to be his lack of confidence. Hopefully he can break out of this funk in time for next year, or else he won’t be seeing a second contract from Baltimore.