The plan at tight end is a bit murky for the Ravens right now.
The Ravens have a clear void at the position, – with Owner Steve Bisciotti strongly stating Wednesday night, "We absolutely need a tight end." Owner Steve Bisciotti said – but But the team may actually have a strong group if they get some good fortune.
Dennis Pitta's status for the upcoming season is unknown as he recovers from a second major hip injury in as many years. Second-year player Crockett Gillmore is heading into his sophomore season after showing potential as a rookie, and the Ravens also have an eye on the market for some additional help.
Bisciotti explained that the Ravens are staying hopeful with Pitta, and they also have some big expectations for Gillmore.
"I'm praying for Dennis coming back, that he's healthy enough and they've [delete] kind of get to a solution and he feels comfortable," Bisciotti said during Wednesday's a conference call with PSL owners.
"Don't sleep on Crockett. He loves to stick his nose in there."
The Ravens liked what they saw from Gillmore in a limited role as a rookie. The 6-foot-6, 251-pounder came to Baltimore with a self-proclaimed reputation as a strong blocker, but he also flashed as a pass catcher.
Gillmore, a third-round pick, caught 10 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown after taking over the No. 2 tight end role behind veteran Owen Daniels when Pitta went down for the season.
"We loved what Crockett Gillmore did for us," Bisciotti said. "He loves to block and I think he doesn't give himself enough credit for the kind of hands that he has. I as am genuinely shocked at how he was watching him practice all year, and then seeing him perform in games."
Bisciotti even drew a comparison between compared Gillmore and to Cowboys perennial Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten. Both players are big-[hyphen]bodied tight ends who can hold their own as blockers, and they also have the hands to serve as assets in the passing game.
"When you have a guy like a Jason Witten who loves to block – doesn't just do it because he's being made to do it – and can get off the line of scrimmage, that can be a great weapon.
"I really would expect 30-40 balls to Crockett this year."
The Ravens likely won't know Pitta's status until training camp nears this summer, and they will have contingency plans in place if he's unable to return. Baltimore is monitoring the free-agency market, and Bisciotti also indicated that the Ravens will look to the middle rounds of the draft to add a pass-catching tight end like Pitta.
"With Crockett as the in-line guy, then I think that there are opportunities to find another Dennis Pitta – a move tight end, a mismatch guy that can split out into the slot and create those kinds of mismatches," Bisciotti said. "We got him in the fourth round and I'm very hopeful that we'll find ourselves a flex/move tight end in the third or fourth round."
With Gillmore and another tight end in the mix, the Ravens will new have a new young core to replenish the position. And the possibility still exists for Pitta to make another comeback, which has the Ravens hopeful for the impact of that position.
"I think there's a real good chance we'll get one [in the draft]," Bisciotti said. "And if we get Dennis Pitta back, then we are set."