The Ravens drafted two wide receivers and Robert Griffin III is in the perfect position to provide scouting reports on them. Griffin has worked out regularly with Devin Duvernay and James Proche in Dallas this offseason, and the veteran quarterback has been very impressed.
"Both guys, phenomenally talented," Griffin said on “The Lounge” podcast. "It just comes down to them being able to showcase what they did in college at the pro level. They definitely have what it takes in my opinion, because I've worked with a lot of guys."
Griffin pointed out that both rookies spent the majority of their time playing in the slot in college, but said he "wouldn't sleep on their ability to play outside."
"Duvernay, obviously a track guy. He's a tough guy, tracks the ball really well downfield. He is fast, but he's really fast," Griffin said.
"Proche, there's just something about the way he comes to work every time we go out there. I think he's a lot faster than people give him credit for. His 40 time, maybe injury is the reason that he fell in the draft. The kid can fly and he's got strong hands. He has a desire within in him to kind of prove everybody wrong."
The 2020 season will be particularly challenging for rookies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prevented teams from holding organized workouts. Those sessions would have been particularly valuable for third-round pick Duvernay and sixth-round pick Proche, who are learning a new offense while playing with new teammates.
Both Duvernay and Proche were prolific college wide receivers last season – Duvernay with 106 catches, 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns at Texas, and Proche with 111 catches, 1,225 yards and 15 touchdowns at SMU.
However, rookie receivers often have a difficult time transitioning smoothly to the NFL. The routes are more complex, the cornerbacks are more talented and deciphering NFL defensive coverages is more difficult. Only 10 rookie receivers topped 500 yards in receiving last year, including Marquise Brown, who was eighth among rookies with 584 receiving yards.
Duvernay and Proche hope to earn playing time among a deep Ravens wide receiver group led by Brown, Willie Snead IV and Miles Boykin. Griffin believes Duvernay and Proche can make an immediate impact, but he didn't say it would be easy.
"I think it's a ginormous leap," Griffin said. "I've tried to explain that to them in my conversations with them. It's one thing to be on a Zoom call, to listen to your coach. It's another thing to go out there and be on the field and to be able to learn from your mistakes.
"It's a very big disadvantage for all the guys that are coming into the league this year that didn't have an offseason. It's kind of understated how big of a disadvantage that is. But what I try to preach to them is that it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, when they show up, whenever it is time to go they have to be ready, they have to show coaches and the players that they can be counted on."
Griffin has been using his seven years of NFL experience to help Duvernay and Proche. Not only does Griffin know Baltimore's offense inside and out, he has played in a variety of offenses and can explain in detail what a wide receiver should look for on a specific route.
Once training camp begins, rookies will have to learn fast. There may not be as much time for individual teaching, or to re-run routes if they are not executed properly. Griffin has taken the time to help Duvernay and Proche understand what their first NFL training camp will be like.
"It just puts the onus on those guys to be ready," Griffin said. "You're not going to be spoon-fed anything.
"The sessions that we've had just aren't routes on air. It's also teaching them the concepts, teaching them how to run a certain route and how this route is run in the NFL. The feedback I've gotten from them has been great that they've been able to go through their playbooks now and kind of feel for familiarity with the offense. Kudos to them for taking the time to work with me and taking it seriously. I think it will really benefit them."