With training camp now in full swing and the calendar turning to August, we’re quickly approaching the start of the 2020 NFL regular season.
Amidst an offseason unlike any other, it’s easy to forget what’s at stake for the Ravens this season and where individual players stand heading into the season. As such, we’ll examine each player’s outlook for the 2020 campaign on a position-by-position basis.
Rounding out the offensive skill positions is tight end, where the Ravens have one of the better duos in the NFL in Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle. The battle to replace Hayden Hurst on the depth chart is shaping up to a competitive one.
After a promising rookie season, Mark Andrews took a significant step forward in his second year — establishing himself as one of the league’s top pass-catching tight ends.
Lamar Jackson targeted Andrews 98 times on the season, significantly more than the second most-targeted receiver on the roster (Marquise Brown, 71 targets), and Andrews responded by catching 64 passes for 852 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
It was evident that he was in store for a breakout campaign from get-go, as Andrews caught all 17 of his targets for over 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns through Weeks 1-2.
Andrews was essentially the designated receiver of the team’s three-headed monster at the tight end position. Nick Boyle played by far the most snaps of the group and Hayden Hurst’s snap count was identical to that of Andrews — 457 total. Both Boyle and Hurst were featured heavily as blockers, an area of Andrews’ game where he could stand to improve quite a bit. Doing so would make him a more complete tight end.
Andrews carries some potential injury concerns seeing as though he’s been nicked up a few times throughout his young career thus far. However, as long as he’s on the field and in the lineup, expect him to have another Pro Bowl-caliber season in 2020.
After signing a three-year contract extension worth $18 million ahead of the 2019 campaign, Nick Boyle went on to post the best statistical season of his career.
Boyle caught a career-high 31 receptions and set a new high mark in receiving yards with 321. Additionally, he also reeled in two touchdown catches for the first time in his career. He started 15 of 16 games and played 769 offensive snaps (70%), by far the most he’s ever been on the field.
In Greg Roman’s offense, Boyle plays an all-important role not so much as a receiver but as a versatile blocker. Whether it be along the offensive line, in the backfield or being moved in motion, Boyle lined up in various spots throughout the season.
Boyle will once again be a big part of the team’s offensive success in 2020. With Hayden Hurst no longer in the fold, Boyle could potentially be called upon more as a pass-catcher, too.
The only other tight end returning from last season is Charles Scarff, who spent all of 2019 on the Ravens’ practice squad after being added as an undrafted free agent.
Scarff showed some promise throughout OTA’s, training camp and preseason last year and were it nor for the talent at the position, he had a strong case to make the 53-man roster.
Flash forward to this season and Scarff is well-positioned to stick around this time. The departure of Hayden Hurst has created a vacuum for the No. 3 tight end spot and as the only candidate with experience in the Ravens’ offensive system, Scarff likely has the inside track at winning the job.
However, this isn’t to say he’s a shoe-in by any means. If he were to make the active roster, Scarff could carve out a role as a complimentary blocker and receiver.
One of the UDFA’s the Ravens brought on this offseason was Georgia’s Eli Wolf, who is also in the mix for the third tight end spot.
Wolf played three seasons at Tennessee before transferring to Athens for his senior season, where he caught 13 receptions for 194 receiving yards and a touchdown in eight games. Wolf doesn’t have the benefit of experience like the other bubble players at the position, so he’ll need a strong training camp to make his case to be kept around.
Wolf’s chances were given a boost last week, though, when fellow undrafted TE Jacob Breeland was placed on the non-injury reserve list.
The most recent addition to the roster is Jerell Adams, who the Ravens signed just a couple of weeks ago. Adams is already the most experienced tight end on the roster.
Adams, 27, was drafted in 2016 out of South Carolina. Oddly enough, he was teammates with Hayden Hurst for the gamecocks and Hurst replaced him as a starter after Adams was selected by the Giants in the draft.
In 2016-17, Adams caught a combined 24 receptions for 214 receiving yards and reeled in one touchdown. He was released by New York after two seasons, though, and has spent the past two years on the practice squad of the Saints and Texans.
Adams has a decent shot at making the roster seeing as though he was far more experience than both Scarff and Wolf. However, he hasn’t shown much through four career seasons and unlike Scarff, Adams is brand new to the Ravens’ system.
Wrapping up the list is the lone fullback of the group, Pat Ricard. Unlike the three previous players listed, though, Ricard does not have to worry about vying for a roster spot.
“Project Pat” emerged as one of the best fullbacks in the NFL last season in just his first year as a legitimate starter. Ricard’s blocking ability was crucial in the Ravens’ rushing success, as he consistently opened up running lanes for Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards all season long.
Ricard also saw some action as a receiver, albeit minimal, turning a career-high 11 targets into eight receptions for 47 receiving yards out of the backfield. He caught a touchdown in Week 1 against the Dolphins.
Fresh off his first Pro Bowl appearance, look for Ricard to once again play an important role in Greg Roman’s offensive scheme and put forth a strong follow-up campaign.