In the Ravens’ passing offense, Likely’s preseason role has so far mirrored Andrews’ role last season. He’s lined up in the slot on 21 of the 30 passing plays (73%) the Ravens have called with him on the field, according to Pro Football Focus, starting the other nine as an in-line player next to the offensive line.
Andrews, in his record-breaking 2021, lined up in the slot 62.2% of the time. He also split out wide on 15.7% of his passing plays, a flexibility that Harbaugh on Tuesday said could extend to Likely as well.
“There’s personnel groups that you kind of imagine that you can put on the field,” Harbaugh said. “And wherever they line up, I don’t think it’s kind of a stretch to say they’ll line up outside. ... I think they’ll be out there. They can run slants and fades and even deeper routes. So I’m excited. I can’t wait to see what comes out of the laboratory. They’re going to be weapons for us. It’s going to be fun.”
The Ravens are not averse to multiple-tight-end formations. In 2019, Roman’s first year as offensive coordinator, they deployed at least two tight ends on over 40% of their plays, according to Sharp Football Stats, and had the NFL’s best offense.
Trevor Lawrence needs a No. 1 WR, Isaiah Likely gives Ravens options: 6 preseason thoughts - Ted Nguyen
Isaiah Likely makes the Ravens offense even more interesting
The media lauded the Ravens’ draft, particularly in the early rounds when it looked like they found value on nearly every pick. But GM Eric DeCosta might have found a sleeper in the fourth round who can contribute right away. Isaiah Likely was selected at No. 139 and was the second tight end the Ravens drafted.
Against the Cardinals, Likely caught eight passes on eight targets for 100 yards and a touchdown on only 15 snaps. Likely’s most impressive trait was his ability to adjust his routes and find open spaces in the Cardinals secondary. The Ravens give a lot of freedom to their pass catchers to hunt for space, so Likely’s skill set fits like a glove for this offense.
The Ravens lack depth at wide receiver, but it looks like they are going back to multiple tight end sets this season. TE1 is All-Pro Mark Andrews and TE2 is Nick Boyle, but he’s more of a blocking tight end. Likely can carve out a nice role as the third tight end, lining up in the slot, split out wide or as a wing. Having two tight ends who are mismatches in the passing game will only make the Ravens’ unique offense even more of a headache to defend.
Baltimore Ravens 53-man roster projection: Will Tylan Wallace win the final wide receiver spot? - Dalton Miller
James Proche II*
RB Gus Edwards
OT Ronnie Stanley
OLB Tyus Bowser
OLB David Ojabo
Edwards, Stanley, and Bowser would all be Ravens 53-man roster locks, which gives some other Ravens opportunities early on in the season to shine. Davis has looked good in the backfield early on after flaming out in Atlanta, and having Jackson under center as a rushing weapon makes gap and assignment integrity markedly more difficult for defenders in the run game.
2022 preseason All-AFC North Team: Joe Burrow edges out Lamar Jackson, defenses loaded with talent - Jared Dubin
Picking a tight end was easy. While Pat Freiermuth and David Njoku have a chance to shine in larger roles, Andrews is already among the most productive players at his position. Coming off career highs in catches and receiving yards (and playing time), he should stick as Jackson’s top passing-game option, and have a shot at another All-Pro season.
Stanley has missed the better part of the past two seasons, but when last healthy, he was an All-Pro-caliber player. The bet here is on a healthy season.
Campbell is getting up into his late 30s and no longer plays 80-90 percent of defensive snaps, but he can still wreak havoc as a heavy rotational player. He’s one of the most versatile defensive linemen in the league with the ability to rush from inside and out, and play the pass and the run at an extremely high level. So long as he stays healthy, he’s going to produce in a big way.
The defensive backs in this division are really damn good. Humphrey missed some time last year but when healthy, he is among the best man cover corners in the NFL. He’ll be a foundational piece for new defensive coordinator Mike McDonald.
Williams is the prototype center-field safety, being dropped into a loaded secondary.
RAVENS: The longest NFL win streak of all time is 23 by the 2008-09 Indianapolis Colts. But that was merely the regular season. The Ravens can match that number — in the preseason — with a win on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium. If they reach the mountaintop, one heavy lifter could be future preseason Hall of Famer/rookie tight end Isaiah Likely. Fantasy folks, if you’re not already on Likely, you might want to use this game to catch the bandwagon. After a promising preseason opener (four catches for 42 yards on four targets), Likely blew the roof off State Farm Stadium with eight catches on eight targets for 100 yards and a TD. We suspect the Ravens’ 12 and 13 personnel packages are back in business with Likely, Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle, which can really give opponents problems when they’re also trying to stop Lamar Jackson.