Eisenberg: Ravens Already Have the Offensive Playmakers They Want

WR Marquise Brown, WR Mailes Boykin, TE Hayden Hurst and RB Justice Hill in action during an NFL game.

Even though the Ravens' offense set records and dominated defenses in 2019, the organization wants to surround quarterback Lamar Jackson with more playmakers in 2020.

But don't take that to mean there'll be a bunch of new faces in the huddle.

My suspicion is the Ravens believe the bulk of any uptick in their playmaking will come from players already on the roster.

Wide receivers Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin and tight end Hayden Hurst all could produce at significantly higher levels if they take the developmental steps the Ravens envision. Running back Justice Hill also could contribute more.

The excitement level is highest for Brown, the team's 2019 first-round draft pick, who caught 46 passes for 584 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie, showing considerable potential while dealing with the troublesome remnants of a Lisfranc foot injury.

Between his being healthier (he recently reportedly had screws removed from his foot), more experienced and stronger after an offseason under team control, Brown seemingly is poised to become a No. 1-caliber receiver. I'm hesitant to make projections, but the Ravens drafted him to be a difference-maker capable of thousand-yard seasons.

"Receivers typically make a big jump from their first to second season. We think that's going to happen with Hollywood," Ravens GM Eric DeCosta said at the NFL Scouting Combine last week.

Less certain is who'll start opposite Brown, and inevitably, there's plenty of chatter about available free agents. I do expect the Ravens to add a veteran receiver, just not one who costs a lot.

It sounds as if the team hopes Boykin emerges as the starter opposite Brown. Boykin only caught 13 passes as a rookie, but three went for touchdowns, suggesting more production is possible.

"Very, very excited about Miles," DeCosta said last week. "He made some big plays for us throughout the course of the year. We expect him to improve quite a bit with an offseason. He's a big and strong and fast, physical guy. Great attitude … We think he'll make a big jump."

If that prediction comes anywhere close to true, Boykin could easily catch three times as many passes in 2020.

As for Hurst, I get why he has been the subject of trade speculation. The 2018 first-round pick has plenty of talent, but he's No. 3 on the depth chart behind Nick Boyle, whose blocking makes him indispensible, and Mark Andrews, Jackson's favorite receiving target. Hurst caught 30 passes last year. I'm sure some teams believe they could get more out of him.

The Ravens are almost compelled to check out any offers, but I seriously doubt they'll move Hurst. Their offense is built around having three quality tight ends. They all see significant playing time, including Hurst, who was on the field for 41 percent of the offense's snaps in 2019.

Why tinker at a position where things are working so well? If Hurst is gone, I could easily see the three-headed tight end monster quickly shrinking to one head at times, as Andrews has dealt with numerous nagging injuries in his two seasons.

I think the likeliest outcome for Hurst is he stays and Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman tries to get the ball in his hands more. It certainly makes sense to get more out of the speed he exhibited on his long touchdown in Buffalo last December.

Hill also could become a more productive playmaker in 2020. It isn't easy for him to get on the field with Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards at his position, but as with Hurst, his speed is a factor that needs to be explored. He got more offensive reps late last season.

So, will there be any new playmakers on offense? Well, the NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah surprisingly has the Ravens taking a running back, Georgia's D'Andre Swift, at No. 28 overall in his latest mock draft. Hmm. I have an easier time seeing the Ravens address more of a need at wide receiver, probably on Day 2 on the draft, and as noted above, signing another receiver in free agency.

But for the most part, the Ravens already have the offensive playmakers they want. It's just a matter of getting more out of them.

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