Ravens' Young Tight Ends Ready For Big Time


When the Ravens see Owen Daniels on the other side of the field Sunday in Denver, it will be a stark reminder of how young Baltimore's tight end corps has gotten.

Daniels, 32, played one season in Baltimore last year, catching 48 passes for 527 yards and four touchdowns. The Ravens watched him depart for Denver, one again following Head Coach Gary Kubiak.

In Baltimore, the Ravens are turning the page at the position and straying from their usual mold. Typically a team that carries a veteran tight end, the Ravens have the youngest tight end corps in the NFL.

Starter Crockett Gillmore is entering just his second season. He'll be backed up by rookies Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle, who are second- and fifth-round picks, respectively. 

"Could there be a younger group of tight ends? How far back would you have to go to find a younger group of three tight ends in this league?" Head Coach John Harbaugh asked.

The Ravens offense has experience all over their offensive starting positions, except tight end.

Quarterback Joe Flacco is entering his eighth season, running back Justin Forsett is going into his eighth, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. is heading into his 15th. The entire starting offensive line is returning for another year with the youngest starter, right tackle Rick Wagner, going into his third season.

The Ravens have traditionally relied on more experienced tight ends. They signed veteran Shannon Sharpe for their Super Bowl run in 2000. They drafted Todd Heap the following year, and he stayed through 2010. Dallas Clark (2013) and Daniels (2014) each had one-year stays.

The last time Baltimore underwent a tight end youth movement was in 2010, as they selected Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta in the same draft, in the third and fourth rounds, respectively. Pitta and Dickson one year to study under Heap before sharing the starting job.

Now, with Pitta still on the mend from his second major hip injury, the torch is being passed again. Gillmore had one year of mentorship from Daniels and Pitta and is now the starter. He'll tutor Williams and Boyle, but they'll be heavily leaned on, as well.

The Ravens expected to use their tight ends a lot in an offense that Kubiak brought to Baltimore and new Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman has largely left intact. Harbaugh expects big things from them in Denver and this season.

"I have been pleased with the tight ends," Harbaugh said. "I'm really excited about it. I can't wait to see them play. I feel like they have what it takes. I feel like they're going to acquit themselves very well."

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