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Crockett Gillmore on the competition at tight end: “They’re going to enjoy the bench”

The 2014 draft pick knows he must return to form after an injury plagued season.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Crockett Gillmore was a 2014 3rd round draft pick out of Colorado State for the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens made this selection with the uncertainty of Dennis Pitta's health after he suffered his first hip dislocation and with the departure of Ed Dickson. Not only that, but the team also signed veteran tight end Owen Daniels to add further depth and to let Gillmore develop. Pitta would unfortunately injure his hip again and Gillmore became the number two tight end for the rest of the season. With the departure of Daniels in free agency and Pitta missing the entire 2015 season, Gillmore made the leap to the number one slot. In his first two seasons in Baltimore, Gilmore showed the Ravens what he can do and became a contributor to the offense.

Standing at 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighing in at 260 pounds, Gillmore not only can block, but is a very solid pass catcher and uses his size and strength to his advantage. It is also incredibly tough to bring him down whenever he catches the football. Just ask the Oakland Raiders in 2015. Gillmore, when on the field, is a big factor. Unfortunately, staying on the field has been a challenge.

Throughout his career in Baltimore, Gillmore has suffered numerous injuries to his shoulder, back, and hamstrings. Entering the 2016 season, Gillmore was coming off shoulder surgery after being placed on injured reserve two seasons ago for shoulder and back injuries that ended his 2015 season. Gillmore has also missed 13 of the last 20 games the Ravens have played.

In 2016, the Ravens became one of the deepest teams in the NFL at the tight end position with the signing of Ben Watson and the return of Dennis Pitta, along with young guys like Darren Waller, Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams. However, things started to unravel. Boyle and Waller were both suspended, Watson suffered a torn Achilles in the preseason, and Williams missed the entire season with a knee injury. Gillmore was the number two tight end after Pitta, but injuries would hit the former 2014 3rd round pick as well. Gillmore played the first seven games, but would miss the remaining nine with a hamstring injury. Even though Gillmore starting practicing towards the end of the season and was removed from the injury report before the Ravens Week 16 game with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the timing didn't work in Gillmore's favor as Boyle and Waller had returned from suspensions, and perhaps a little surprisingly, the team went with the duo instead of a proven and, lets be honest, more talented commodity like Gillmore. Who knows, maybe Gillmore grabs the dropped touchdown pass by Darren Waller in Pittsburgh?

After a frustrating season, Gillmore now enters a contract year with other young players hungry to get more playing time. Gillmore recently spoke with WNST's Luke Jones about the upcoming competition. Gillmore stated:

"I don't want to come off the field. All downs, every down, and [I want to be] the guy. There's no reason I shouldn't be. There's no reason I can't be. That's great we have nine tight ends. They're going to enjoy the bench. That's just reality. I'll tell them. They know."

Gillmore also talked about his injury that lingered him in 2016 and why it might've been good for him:

"It was the best injury I've ever had. I got to sit back. I got to learn. I got to change my attitude about what happens and what you can control and what you can't. I came back faster and stronger and healthier than ever [at the end of the season], and we were just short. I got to see the changes in myself as well as everything else that was going on. I really got to be ready to go. Honestly, I feel better than I ever have physically and I was ready to go. They make the decisions, but I was ready to go. That's all I could do. To be able to have the opportunity, that's all I could ask for."

Some might feel this is Gillmore's cockiness and ego talking, and that he shouldn't speak up like this after being plagued with injuries so far in his career. However, this sounds like a guy who is motivated and angry after a lost 2016 season, in addition to the fact that he didn't finish a 2015 season in which Gilmore was emerging as one of the better tight ends in the game. Gillmore wants to return to form, but he knows it won't be easy with guys like Williams, Boyle and Waller on the roster. Plus, who knows if Ozzie Newsome decides to add to that depth chart in free agency or the NFL Draft.

Of course, Gillmore has to stay healthy and the same can be said for the other three. Not to mention, Waller and Boyle cannot allow themselves to be suspended again. Especially Boyle, who is one more PED violation away from being suspended for at least two years.

If Gillmore stays healthy in 2017, expect him to play well and maybe even take over the number one spot on the depth chart. After that, he could very well get rewarded next offseason, whether its from the Ravens, or someone else.