In just his second season in the league, Devin Duvernay became the first homegrown wide receiver in Baltimore Ravens franchise history to not only get voted to the Pro Bowl but earn a spot on an All-Pro first or second team. However, it was for his sensational play as a punt returner, not for the primary function of his position which is catching passes, racking up receiving yards, and scoring touchdowns.
While he scored his first two career offensive touchdowns on impressive snags in which he showed great hands and body control in the end zone, Duvernay only recorded 71 more receiving yards (201-272) and caught just 13 more passes (20-33) than he did as a rookie in 2021.
The former third-round pick has mostly been limited to and sparsely used in a ‘gadget’ role during his first two years in the league. Despite consistently flashing his explosiveness whenever he touched the ball on both handoffs and receptions, he has never had more than five touches in a single game to date.
Following the trade of Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown during the 2022 NFL Draft and the team’s lack of interest in the veteran free-agent market at the position, Duvernay is poised to take on a larger role in the Ravens offense in 2022. His coaches challenged and instructed him to work on improving specific aspects of his game as it pertains to playing receiver during the offseason and are pleased with the strides he has made per their instruction.
“He is much improved from last season, and that’s what you want to see in a young player,” Ravens Wide Receiver Coach Tee Martin said. “ Mentally, physically, he’s taken another step, and so, I’m just looking forward to that translating to the field.”
His coach went on to say that Duvernay raised multiple facets of his game including releases and running routes. He also said year three is typically the season where young wide receivers are expected and especially “going to be counted” on to step up and produce in their respective offenses.
”He took his route running to the next level,” Martin said. “He’s always had good hands; he’s always been a dependable receiver, as far as catching the ball for us; he took the running after the catch to the next level.”
Duvernay echoed his position coach’s sentiments and assessments about the areas he has elevated his “overall game” as a receiver.
“Route running, catching, flying around, playing fast,” Duvernay said. “I think those are the things that I’ve continued to try to improve on and things that I need to continue to improve on to just keep elevating my game outside of special teams and getting on a bigger receiver role and things like that.”
He said that he hated to see Brown go but expressed that he and his fellow wideouts are excited for the expanded opportunities on offense that the future holds in 2022 and beyond. Duvernay believes that the fact that the Ravens didn’t draft another receiver and have yet to sign a veteran is a clear vote of confidence in the guys they already have on the roster that they’ve invested time and draft capital on.
“They drafted us for a reason,” Duvernay said. “I feel like they feel strongly about us. Every day on this practice field we just try to prove them right in their decisions.”
The former Texas Longhorn ran a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Combine and is confident in his ability to help replace the vertical threat presence that Brown provided during his time in Baltimore.
“I think I can stretch the field,” Duvernay said. “Me and ‘Bate’ [Rashod Bateman], for sure [can] stretch the field – make plays, down the field. And whenever ‘G-Ro’ [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] calls it, we’re ready.”
He hopes that the playmaking prowess he has shown on special teams will translate to his coaches believing in and unleashing his offensive potential.
“I think it will just continue to allow the coaches to gain trust in me, believe in me, see what I can do in other units, as a dynamic player with the ball in my hands. And hopefully, that just leads to more and more as a receiver.”
He said he is on a mission and is determined to prove that he can be a complete NFL receiver in addition to being a great returner.
“I just come out in practice and just do what I can do and have fun with it and show them that I’m a very capable wide receiver and can help this team win.”