Mailbag: Could Devin Duvernay Have a Deebo Samuel-Like Role?

Left: San Francisco 49ers WR Deebo Samuel (Logan Bowles/NFL); Right: WR Devin Duvernay (Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens Photos)

Mink: It's an interesting question. I've long been a fan of what Devin Duvernay brings to the table. The guy seems to make good things happen whenever he touches the ball (23 targets, 31 catches, 203 yards, two touchdowns). Duvernay also had a key 21-yard gain on that final game-winning drive in Chicago. So I'm in favor of seeing Duvernay get the ball in his hands more.

Samuel has been one of the top wide receivers in football this year and is second in the league with 994 receiving yards, so Duvernay would have a long way to go to catch up to that kind of production. But I'm guessing you're talking about how the 49ers use Samuel as a runner, where he has 19 carries for 137 yards and three touchdowns. The Ravens have used Duvernay a lot in pre-snap motions across the formation, either as a decoy or as a runner on jet sweeps (he has three carries) but they haven't lined him up in the backfield so much. We saw it once in the Minnesota game.

It's actually something Ken McKusick brought up as a possibility on "The Lounge" podcast during the bye-week evaluation. Duvernay's speed could stress the edges of the defense more than the running backs have so far. It's a totally new role for him, but perhaps something we see more of down the stretch. I'm in favor, even if it means just more handoffs on those jet sweeps.

Downing: The decision to leave Chris Westry one-on-one on fourth down didn't work out for the Ravens in that moment, but there was sound rationale behind the move. First of all, the decision showed the Ravens' confidence in Westry. The young cornerback is a talented player who has played well since returning from injured reserve, and the Ravens like his chances to win in that situation. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale is an aggressive play caller, and the Cover-Zero strategy was part of the gameplan going into that matchup. The Ravens wanted to turn up the pass rush in that game, and the strategy worked for much of the game. Quarterback Andy Dalton made the Ravens pay for the blitz in that situation, but the defense had allowed just seven points up until that moment.

The other point that Head Coach John Harbaugh made on Monday is that going with the aggressive blitz call in that situation essentially put the Ravens in position to end the game or give up a quick score. "Sometimes a quick outcome is OK either way," Harbaugh said. After the touchdown, the Ravens got the ball back with 1:41 left to play and quarterback Tyler Huntley orchestrated a game-winning drive. Had the Ravens gone a more conservative route on that fourth-down call, Chicago may have picked up the first down and then bled the clock to ultimately kick a game-winning field goal.

Mink: With Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray on the field together for the first time since Week 6, Freeman out-snapped Murray 47-30 and had 16 carries to Murray's 10. Now, keep in mind that it was Murray's first game back from his ankle injury, so the Ravens may have planned to ease him back into action a little.

Over the long haul, I expect Freeman and Murray to have a pretty even split. Murray is the big-bodied north-south runner. Freeman has been used a little more on outside runs and shown to be a good receiver out of the backfield. So they offer a little different styles. Neither is going to turn into a "bell-cow" back for the Ravens, and I think they'll rotate them pretty evenly to keep them fresh and hopefully maximize what they offer.

Downing: We're talking draft? In mid-November? Did you forget that the Ravens are in first place in the division?! Look, it's far too early to start throwing out names that the Ravens could target when the draft rolls around five months from now, but I will talk through some of the positions the Ravens could address. I expect this draft to focus on the trenches. I know that's not sexy, but the Ravens will likely use the draft to beef up the line on both sides of the ball. The Ravens have a veteran defensive line where Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams are set to become free agents, so there could be an early pick used on a defensive tackle/defensive end. Offensively, the line has questions as left tackle Ronnie Stanley is coming off another ankle surgery and center Bradley Bozeman is a free agent. There was plenty of speculation that the Ravens could draft a first-round offensive tackle last year, and this draft may be when it happens.

Outside of the lines, the Ravens could look to a variety of spots on defense. An early safety is possible as DeShon Elliott just had a season-ending injury and is set to become a free agent. Cornerback is also a potential position of need, especially if Anthony Averett leaves in free agency and if Jimmy Smith retires. I also could see another mid-round running back considering J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are both returning from serious knee injuries. The Ravens could go a number of directions early in the draft, but don't forget, we still have PLENTY of time to talk about all of that!

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