O.J. Howard is a tantalizing prospect. However, when he is brought up as an option for the draft in Ravens fans circles, the proposition is usually quickly shot down with the depth at tight end given as the reason why Howard would be unnecessary.
Representing that depth is Maxx Williams. He was the consensus number one ranked tight end of the class of 2013, and his talent was evident on the tape of Minnesota career. In the pre-draft process, Williams garnered comparisons to Greg Olsen and - perhaps more accurately - to Jason Witten.
Williams first season saw him post the best ever numbers for a Ravens rookie tight end, posting exactly 32 catches for 268 yards and a touchdown, eclipsing Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta.
Last season was a lost one for Williams. Tight ends typically take three years to break out - as proven by Olsen, Travis Kelce and Jordan Read thus making the upcoming season of paramount importance for Williams.
Williams needs to shed the baby fat and grow into his body. His route running has suffered from this since his college days, as he does not carry his weight well. He has had trouble snapping off his routes as a result.
Despite this, Williams' college tape has shown his tremendous body control. Added speed and explosiveness, which comes with less weight, would help him create enough separation to let his body control and his ball skills take over.
If Williams does not show the skills that have made him a second round pick, he will find himself fazed out by Crockett Gilmore, Dennis Pitta and possibly even Ben Watson, though the odds that the latter makes a complete recovery and remains an effective player are low.
The Ravens need a threat to emerge between the numbers. There is no true seam threat on the team despite the fact that it is known that Joe Flacco thrives when the tight end is a focal part of the offense. The optimal time for Williams to realize his potential is now, or else his days in Baltimore could be numbered.