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Could Ravens tight end Maxx Williams finally breakout in 2018?

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Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In the 2015 NFL draft, the Ravens selected tight end Maxx Williams, the top prospect at his position, in the second round. Three years later, Baltimore is still waiting for Williams to justify their early-round selection. Could 2018 finally be the long-awaited breakout year for Williams?

As a rookie, Williams recorded 32 catches for 268 yards and one touchdown. In 2016, he would suffer a knee injury and undergo a rare surgery, the likes of which had never been performed on an NFL player before. Williams returned in 2017, but only posted 15 catches for 86 yards and one touchdown. His role on the offense was as a blocking tight end rather than a receiving threat.

Going into the 2018 draft, it’s clear that the Ravens are in desperate need of a pass-catching tight end. Williams and fellow tight end Nick Boyle are not threats in the passing game. While both have solid hands, neither has the necessary speed to create mismatches and stretch the field vertically. It’s unclear if Williams could regain his college athleticism now that he is another year removed from the surgery.

Williams was never an Eric Ebron type of tight end, but he displayed playmaking ability in the passing game while in college at Minnesota. He flashed in moments during his rookie season in Baltimore, particularly in a preseason game against the Saints. Down by a score of 27-23 and faced with a 4th-and-20, Ravens quarterback Bryn Renner checked the ball down to Williams, who converted the 4th-and-20 by hurdling one Saints’ player and trucking another over the first-down line. Baltimore would go on to score the game-winning touchdown with just seconds remaining on the clock.

It remains to be seen if Williams will ever fully recovery from his mysterious knee surgery, and if he will ever reach his second-round potential in the NFL. If there was ever a time to do so, it would be this season, in the final-year of his rookie contract with the Ravens.