Ravens' Best Kept Secrets Entering 2015


Every year, some players take opposing teams, fans and pundits by surprise.

Sometimes, those watching the team practice nearly every day throughout Organized Team Activities, minicamp and training camp can see some of these surprises coming down the pike.

Here are some of this year's best kept secrets:

TE Crockett Gillmore

Fans are clamoring for the return of tight end Dennis Pitta from his second major hip surgery. Meanwhile, rookie tight end Maxx Williams, has gotten a lot of buzz since the Ravens traded up in the second round to draft him. But Gillmore is the player that has run away with this year's tight end competition, establishing himself as the clear No. 1. Last year, Gillmore told everyone within earshot that he was a blocker first and receiver second, which in large part gave him his low profile. His tune has changed this season. He's an all-around tight end who could catch 50 passes.

WR Kamar Aiken

Madden 16 isn't the only one sleeping on Aiken. He bounced between three teams (Bills, Bears, Patriots) in two seasons before landing on the Ravens' practice squad in 2013. In Baltimore, he at last made the 53-man roster out of camp and made the most of his chance. Aiken caught 24 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns last season. He's a physical, strong-handed receiver who can make tough catches in traffic and has a knack for creating separation. Now he could be a Week 1 starter, even if rookie first-round speedster Breshad Perriman (knee) is back on the field.

P Sam Koch

Koch is highly valued in Baltimore, evidenced by the five-year contract extension the Ravens gave him this offseason. Baltimore gave up a punt return for a touchdown in Philadelphia, but that's in part because Koch isn't breaking out his best punts yet. He's punting to allow his teammates a chance to cover. Otherwise, Koch is so good at directional punting that he can limit much of the opposing team's return game by himself. Outgoing kicker Justin Tucker draws the attention, but Koch is also deserving of the love.

Sophomore Class

The Ravens love last year's draft class. First-round pick C.J. Mosley was a Pro Bowler and finished second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. Second-round defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan has been trusted with stepping into Haloti Ngata's shoes. Third-round safety Terrence Brooks is back on the field and should contribute earlier than thought after a season-ending knee surgery. Fourth-round running back Lorenzo Taliaferro may be the No. 2 once he's back from a minor knee injury. Gillmore, guard John Urschel and tackle James Hurst should also make big contributions. With a full offseason of training under their belts and more comfort that comes with NFL experience, this group could lead the team.

Rookie Class

The Ravens think their rookie class is going to be just as good as last year's. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman has missed nearly all of training camp, but he'll be back and his speed will be an immediate difference-maker on the offense. Williams will likely be the team's No. 2 tight end at the start and third-round defensive tackle Carl Davis could be the steal of the draft. He'll be counted on in the defensive rotation early. Fourth-round outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith will be unchained as a pass rusher and fourth-round running back Buck Allen is currently Justin Forsett's backup with Taliaferro sidelined. This class has the same potential as last year's group to make a big impact early.

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