Mailbag: Who Makes the Team at Wide Receiver?

WR Miles Boykin

Mink: I think it's safe to say Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay and Tylan Wallace will all make the 53-man roster assuming they're all healthy. That leaves Miles Boykin, James Proche II, Binjimen Victor, Deon Cain, Jaylon Moore and Devin Gray battling for one spot if keeping the usual six wide receivers. It'll be one of the best competitions in camp.

Handicapping it right now, I'd lean toward Boykin. He has the most experience, fills a niche as a strong blocker and still has a high ceiling as a very athletically gifted player. Plus, I thought Boykin looked good in practices so far and seems to be progressing in his young career.

It's fair to say that Boykin, a third-round pick out of Notre Dame a couple years ago, didn't break out when given the chance to be an outside starter opposite Brown. Boykin has 32 catches for 464 yards in 32 career games so far. But he has been an asset in the red zone (seven touchdowns) and coaches have continually raved about his blocking. Boykin also played 32% of the special teams snaps the past two years, adding to his value. He has a role.

Plus, the Ravens could be in a tough spot if Watkins, who has a lengthy injury history, were to get hurt and they didn't have Boykin. Baltimore teaches wideouts to play all the different wide receiver spots, but Boykin's big body separates him from some of the other options.

I like Proche and am eager to see what he'll do at wideout in training camp, but winning the returner job may be most important factor in him earning a 53-man roster spot. If Duvernay is good enough to be the punt returner, Proche's path is narrowed. Moore, Victor and Cain made some plays during OTAs and minicamp, but they have an uphill (not impossible) climb.

Mink: OK, let's stick with Boykin and I'll take this one because I asked John Harbaugh this exact question a couple months ago since so many fans were talking about this. His answer made it very clear that Boykin is definitively not shifting to tight end. Harbaugh said Boykin already runs some of the same routes tight ends do, but he "certainly wouldn't call him a tight end. He's a wide receiver. He's not a tight end."

Boykin would have to undergo a sizable physical transformation to be a tight end. He is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. All of Baltimore's tight ends, except Eli Wolf, are 250 pounds or more. At 238 pounds, Wolf is still 18 pounds heavier than Boykin. Darren Waller is 6-foot-6, 255 pounds. Boykin is big for a wide receiver, but far too small for a tight end. Blocking cornerbacks is one thing; blocking outside linebackers is a very different challenge. Boykin can just keep running some of the same tight end routes.

Downing: Last season, the Ravens snapped their 16-year streak of at least one undrafted rookie making the 53-man roster out of training camp, and I expect it to be tough once again for the undrafted class. I don't even think it's a guarantee that all eight draft picks make the active roster, so that's an indication of how tough it will be to get one of the final spots on cutdown day.

If I was building out my 53-man roster prediction right now, I wouldn't have any undrafted rookies on the squad. However, a lot can change over the course of training camp, and the Ravens have a long track record of giving UDFAs a real chance to prove themselves. For any undrafted rookie to make the team, special teams will be critical. A player I'll be watching closely to see how he handles the adjustment to special teams is former TCU safety Ar'Darius Washington. Pro Football Focus graded him as the top undrafted rookie, and he has drawn comparisons to Kansas City's Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu. Washington will have an uphill battle in a deep and talented secondary, and roster spots never come easy for undrafted prospects.

Downing: I never rule out another move from Eric DeCosta. He has shown us time and time again since becoming the team's general manager that he always looks for ways to tweak and improve a roster, even in the middle of the season (remember those trades for Marcus Peters and Yannick Ngakoue?). The natural expectation would be for the Ravens to sign a veteran pass rusher, especially after the reported visit and interest in Justin Houston. That could still happen, but I don't see it as a forgone conclusion. Houston reportedly visited the Ravens back in April, and there has been no activity on that front in the last three months. Training camp opens in two weeks, so the Ravens may go into camp and see what they have in their young pass rushers Odafe Oweh and Jaylon Ferguson. But if DeCosta feels like the roster needs improvement at any point, then he won't hesitate to make a move.

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