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Why the Ravens drafted WR Devin Duvernay

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Speed, toughness and hands

NFL Combine - Day 3 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens selected WR Devin Duvernay with pick No. 92 of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Duvernay thrived in the slot for the University of Texas, where he racked up 106 receptions for 1,386 yards and nine touchdown receptions, along with one rushing touchdown in 2019.

Duvernay played exclusively in the slot in 2019. The year prior, Duvernay took nearly all of his snaps on the boundary with less success but he’s certainly comfortable working there.

The Sachse, Texas native was the No. 37 recruit in the 2016 class. A late commit, Duvernay was the fifth-highest receiver prospect in the country and fourth in the state of Texas.

A track star in High School, Duvernay posted a 10.27 s 100-meter time, which took home the Texas state title.

Duvernay, who is cousins with fellow speedster Kyler Murray, put his speed on display at the NFL Combine running a sub 4.40s 40 with a 1.51 10-yard split. Taking into account that Duvernay posted those times at 200 pounds, he has speed and a thick frame.

His speed shows up on film time and time again, where he rarely loses a foot race on deep balls.

Duvernay is fast. We’ve now established that totally.

He also possesses arguably the best set of hands in his draft class.

The former Longhorn has good sized mitts (9.5 inch hands) and tracks the ball well. He’s not going to win a ton of jump balls, or contested catch situations, but he does a great job keeping his eyes on the prize. Duvernay never runs before the catch is secured and sees the ball into his hands with strong fundamental technique. His tracking downfield is a strength.

Duvernay has elite hands. We’ve totally established that.

Texas used the sure handed speedster on a metric boatload of screen passes. Duvernay caught 42 screens in 2019 and led the nation in broken tackles on screens.

Built line a running back, Duvernay routinely breezes through arm tackles and does it at top speeds. With his long speed and track background, he’s a weapon after the catch. Built stocky, Duvernay can be a little high and tight in his routes. However, he makes up for his lack of suddenness with his hands and speed.

Devin Duvernay is tough to bring down.

We have now established the three pillar of Duvernay’s game. Speed, hands and breaking tackles after the catch.

Duvernay is elite in all three categories. He has dominant traits that will translate to the next level.

He’s not the most sudden route runner and faced only 50 press man looks this past season in the Big 12. Both areas are concerning. The difference between Duvernay being an effective player and an impact player is snapping off his routes and creating separation at the stem.

Against zone coverage, Duvernay has an outstanding feel for space and pace. He has great eyes and knows how to throttle or sit down when he finds grass, making sure he doesn’t run himself into being covered. His best work comes up the seam and on in breaking routes against zone coverage. Good thing the Ravens face more zone coverage than most NFL teams due to Lamar Jackson’s feet.

Jackson is also one, if not the best passer between the hashes in football.

Duvernay has the ability to provide more seam speed than Willie Snead IV or Hayden Hurst have, with strong hands and great ability after the catch.

The question marks for Duvernay are:

• Can he beat press man?

• Can he become more sudden to create separation?

• Will he be limited to slot duty?

If the speedy wideout can become more sudden and refined as a route runner, he feels extremely similar to Golden Tate.

Combine Comparison: Golden Tate & Devin Duvernay

Metrics Golden Tate Devin Duvernay
Metrics Golden Tate Devin Duvernay
40-yard dash (seconds) 4.42 4.39
10-yard split (seconds) 1.51 1.51
Vertical (inches) 35 35.5
Three-cone drill (seconds) 7.12 seconds 7.13
Height 5'10" 5'11"
Weight 199 lbs. 202 lbs.
Hands (inches) 9.25 9.5
Arms (inches) 30.5 30.63

They have the exact same physical and athletic profile. Tate was a more sudden route runner, Duvernay feels a touch faster overtop and stronger.

I see Duvernay having similar ability on screens and in the slot. Being able to draft a young Golden Tate late in the third round is fantastic value.

Duvernay will excel in the Ravens offense on slants, screens and any end around or misdirection plays.

He also can replace Hayden Hurst as a competitive, tough slot option with great hands. He will obviously add more speed with a smaller catch radius. I’ll take it.

As a blocker, Duvernay is sound but not the type of player that is used as a key blocker on the perimeter. He holds his own, but has a lot of room to improve. The Ravens coach receivers up in that department quite well.

In the end, I really like the Golden Tate comparison for Duvernay. He will thrive downfield on deep seam balls and posts a bit more than Tate, while not being quite as sudden underneath.

Rookie Prediction

Duvernay is in heavy rotation with Snead in the slot and thrives in five-wide vertical concepts which the Ravens dial up quite a bit.

He will factor into the return game; he returned 25 kicks at Texas.

The Ravens will get Duvernay a taste of bubble screens so that he can get a feel for NFL competition, and he will move the chains with his north/south downhill running style.

Lamar Jackson will develop a good rapport with Duvernay up the seam as the season progresses, and Duvernay will run away from defenses for a few long scores.

Duvernay logs 35 receptions for 450 yards and five scores as a rookie.

He takes over as the primary slot in year two, turning into a consistent 50-70 catch weapon throughout his career.

If Duvernay becomes a more complete route runner who can snap outside and sink his hips he has the potential to be a pro bowl level slot receiver a la Jarvis Landry with more speed. That’s a big if, though.