Remember Head Coach John Harbaugh's reaction when the Ravens drafted Devin Duvernay in 2020? Harbaugh pumped his fist with elation.
The Patriots had just selected tight end Devin Asiasi in the third round (91st overall), and the Ravens were picking next. For an instant, the Ravens feared the Patriots had selected Duvernay, not Asiasi, who is now a backup with the Bengals.
The Ravens wanted Duvernay. They got him, and they are still fired up about having him.
Making impact plays as both a wide receiver and returner, Duvernay has been one of Baltimore's top weapons in the young season and nobody close to him is surprised. He's one of the quietest players on the team, but his intensity speaks volumes. Duvernay was in the weight room Monday, the day after making more splash plays that helped the Ravens defeat the Patriots.
Working hard and not resting on accomplishments is typical for Duvernay. His diligence is a major reason why he keeps getting better. Harbaugh always believed Duvernay could excel in the NFL as a receiver and Pro Bowl special teams player with breakaway speed and the ability make difficult catches.
"Those are things that we felt like were in his skill set when we drafted him, but it takes, usually, some development in the National Football League," Harbaugh said. "He's been playing ever since he got here in some capacity, but to see him kind of flourish in the last few games in this season in fulfillment of those expectations is just great.
"I was in the weight room earlier and saw him, and he's never satisfied; he's just never satisfied. That kind of mindset is what goes a long way."
Duvernay made two significant plays in Sunday's victory that showed his explosiveness. With the Ravens clinging to a 21-20 lead, Duvernay set up Baltimore's next touchdown with a nifty 43-yard punt return, eluding tacklers, tiptoeing down the sideline and threatening to make a house call to the end zone.
Duvernay's return set up the Ravens at New England's 44-yard line, and four plays later, Duvernay got his touchdown. After getting slightly behind Patriots defensive back Myles Bryant, Lamar Jackson lofted a pinpoint pass to the back of the end zone that gave Duvernay a chance to make a spectacular play. Duvernay outjumped Bryant, cradled the football and had the body control and dexterity to get both feet down just inside the back of the end zone.
According to NextGen Stats, the throw to Duvernay had just a 25.9 percent completion probability, but Jackson and Duvernay turned the odds in their favor.
Duvernay's performance against New England was more impressive because he was coming back from a concussion he suffered in Week 2 against the Dolphins. In that contest, Duvernay opened the game with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that displayed his breakaway speed. According to NextGen Stats, Duvernay reached a top speed of 21.60 miles per hour, the fastest speed by an NFL ballcarrier this season.
The week before, Duvernay was one of the standouts of the Ravens' season opener with two touchdowns catches.
Duvernay has caught all eight passes he's been targeted with for 121 yards and three touchdowns. "Big Play" Duvernay is getting it done as both a returner and receiver, just like the Ravens hoped when they drafted him.
"[I] continue to keep working, keep grinding and be a better receiver, and maybe one day that leads to being an All-Pro receiver," Duvernay said during training camp. "I just keep my head down, I keep working, and want to be the best player I can be."