The Baltimore Ravens’ passing attack has been a lightning rod for controversy and criticism after their record-breaking offense from 2019 came back down to earth a bit in 2020.
Arguably the most underrated reason for the regression in both production and efficiency last season was the departure of Hayden Hurst via trade last offseason and the failure to effectively replace him, which drastically impacted their ability to operate out of 13 personnel.
In 2019, their ability to be both dominant and unpredictable with three tight end sets and two dangerous pass-catching threats at the position in Hurst and Pro Bowler Mark Andrews was integral in their success through the air during Lamar Jackson’s unanimous MVP winning campaign.
The Ravens have some intriguing options already on the roster that could compete for that pivotal third tight end spot with 2020. Undrafted free agents Eli Wolf and Jacob Breeland both missed their rookie seasons with injuries and 2019 third rounder Josh Oliver was acquired via trade from the Jaguars last month in exchange for a future conditional late-round draft pick.
There are also a handful of tight ends in this year’s draft that are talented pass catchers and could come in and add another threat in the passing game over the middle of the field as well as down the seam.
One such player is Kenny Yeboah of Ole Miss who broke out in his senior year with 27 receptions for 524 receiving yards, six touchdowns and averaged a whopping 19.4 yards per catch in just seven games.
Before breaking out in his lone season as a Rebel, he began his career at Temple where he caught 47 passes for 538 yards and six scores and averaged 11.4 yards per reception in 27 games.
Yeboah entered the transfer portal following the 2019 season and was set to follow his former head coach with the Owls—Matt Rhule—to Baylor until he was hired to be the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. He decided to divert to Ole Miss and his decision paid major dividends for his 2021 draft stock since he went from being average in the American Athletic Conference to dominating in the SEC.
He was invited to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl where he stood out in the week of practice and had a great showing in the All-Star game itself with two receptions for 27 yards and a score. His controversial 21-yard touchdown catch was actually short of the goal line upon review but was impressive nonetheless and displayed the kind of threat he can be in the red zone.
Yeboah is a gifted athlete who can box out in the red zone as well as near the goal line, high point the ball to make contested catches and create big plays down the field with his speed and run after the catch ability—both are traits that Hurst provided in 2019 and was missing outside of Andrews in 2020.
Kenny Yeboah went 68 yards for the TD to tie things up vs. Alabama pic.twitter.com/sMnhGaqLe1— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) October 11, 2020
He isn’t a stout or punishing blocker in the run or pass game but that’s what the Ravens have Nick Boyle and Eric Tomlinson for. He could still be moved around and provide positional blocks on the end of the line and in the second level when needed. But his primary focus, if drafted by the Ravens, would be to catch passes and be another intermediate and vertical weapon for Jackson between the numbers where he is at his best, most comfortable, and most accurate.
Yeboah’s wide catch radius and vertical leaping ability coupled with his long speed make him a potential matchup nightmare for slower linebackers and smaller defensive backs alike at the next level.
He likely won’t hear his name called until day three and could very well be on Carolina’s radar since Rhule has already shown an affinity for reuniting with some of the players he recruited while at Temple, such as pass rusher Hassan Reddick and quarterback Phillip Walker. He’s a player the Ravens should definitely be interested in and would certainly be worth one of their two fifth-round picks if he last past the fourth round.