The phrase “Here’s a guy” made famous by NBC sports broadcaster Chris Collinsworth inspired me to write a series of articles where I detail what every Baltimore Ravens’ player that is expected or is in the hunt to be on the roster brings to the table from a skillset standpoint and their 2021 individual outlook.
The fourth edition highlights the most controversial, criticized, talked about, and debated position group on the entire roster...wide receiver:
Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown -
Here’s a guy who can take the top off a defense with his game-breaking speed but can also be used in a variety of other ways including on short and intermediate routes. Brown has matured his game in each of his first two seasons, came on strong late last year, and has been at his best in big games and especially in the postseason.
His ability to threaten vertically opens him and others up to make plays underneath and over the middle of the field. He led the team in receiving yards (769) and touchdowns (eight) and tied for the lead in receptions (58).
In 2021, Brown will benefit greatly from the other additions the team made this offseason because it will take more attention away from him. He will likely be the leading receiver again and have his best season to date.
Sammy Watkins -
Here’s a guy who can separate with speed or with savvy route running and possesses strong sure hands as well inside/outside versatility. When healthy, Watkins can be a reliable intermediate target in the passing game and has a prowess for making clutch plays in big games.
Staying on the field has been an issue for the former fourth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He’s spent the last three years with the Kansas City Chiefs where he helped them win a Super Bowl in 2019 and signed a one-year deal with the Ravens this offseason in hopes to help them do the same.
In 2021, Watkins will be the veteran leader in a very young receiver group that features an average age of 23 years old—not including himself or longshots who are not expected to make the roster. He will likely open most games as the starting receiver opposite of Brown but will likely heavily rotate with the next player on the list.
Rashod Bateman -
Here’s a guy that is everything the Ravens could ask for in a No. 1 wide receiver with the way he does so many different things so well. He runs smooth and crisp routes, can separate against man coverage, find the soft spots against the zone, and create big plays after the catch.
Bateman can operate out of the slot as well as out wide and isn’t afraid to go over the middle of the field and make tough grabs. He possesses the size, speed, and versatility to play any of the receiver spots but especially at ‘X’ where the Ravens need help the most.
In 2021, the Ravens’ top pick in this year’s draft will see a lot of action as a rookie. He will likely become one of Lamar Jackson’s most trusted targets fairly early and have a highly impactful season even if he doesn’t lead the team in any receiving statistical categories.
Devin Duvernay -
Here’s a guy who is a dynamic offensive weapon that is capable of producing chunk plays whenever the ball is in his hands whether it is in the passing, running, or return game. He can pick up first downs and then some on jet sweeps, screens, and vertical routes downfield.
As a rookie, Duvernay showed flashes of his playmaking ability in limited opportunities but played just 34 percent of the offense’s total snap count. He made his biggest mark on special teams as the starting kick returner then eventually the primary punt returner as well. He averaged 27.5 yards per kick return with his longest being 93-yarder for a touchdown and 11.5 yards per punt return.
In 2021, he is expected to assume a larger role on offense and take over most of the primary slot receiver duties following the departure of veteran Willie Snead IV in free agency.
Tylan Wallace -
Here’s a guy that plays a lot bigger than his size suggests and can dominate on the boundary but is both willing and becoming more adept at working across the middle of the field, as well. He can routinely make contested catches, runs smooth routes, and gain consistent separation.
The Ravens selected Wallace with the 131st overall pick in the fourth round of this year’s draft out of Oklahoma State University. He is considered one of the biggest steals and best values of the 2021 class because he was projected to come off the board in the early rounds.
In 2021, he will be competing to earn playing time in a suddenly crowded receiving core but could carve out a nice niche for himself as a rookie, if he continues to impress in practice like he has and carries it over into the preseason as well.
Miles Boykin -
Here’s a guy who is an excellent downfield blocker in the run game and possesses the potential to be a playmaker on the perimeter. He’s a big-bodied pass catcher with enough long speed to threaten vertically and get behind opposing defenses.
While most of the Flock faithful have given up on and are ready for the team to move on from Boykin, the Ravens haven’t. While his receiving numbers through the first two years of his career aren’t gaudy or up to par with his talent, he has been an integral piece of their record-breaking rushing attack over that span.
In 2021, Boykin needs to be more consistent and earn the trust of his quarterback in games and not just practice, if he wants to become more involved in the passing game. This upcoming season will be a pivotal one for the 2019 third-round pick if he’s still on the roster and doesn’t get traded or cut in August.
James Proche -
Here’s a guy that didn’t get to see the field a lot as a rookie on offense but was a dynamic slot receiver in college at SMU. Proche was only targeted three times in 14 games, recorded just one reception for 14 yards, and had his starting punt returner job poached by Duvernay late in the year.
He was inactive for the final two games of the regular season as well as both of the Ravens’ playoff games. However, the 2020 sixth-round pick has been generating a lot of buzz among the fanbase this offseason and will likely be a preseason darling.
In 2021, Proche will need to make the roster first and foremost, which won’t be easy considering the talent the team brought via the draft and free agency. He will face an uphill battle to get on the field on offense this fall with several more heralded players with inside/outside versatility ahead of him on the depth chart, so he will need to be able to contribute more on special teams than just returning punts to secure a roster spot.