The Competition 2017: Tight Ends

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Returning Players

Nick Boyle (6-foot-4, 260 pounds, third season)
Crockett Gillmore (6-6, 260, fourth season)
Benjamin Watson (6-3, 251, 14th season)
Maxx Williams (6-4, 257, third season)
Darren Waller (6-6, 255, third season)

Free-Agent Signings

Ryan Malleck (6-4, 249, first season)

Projected Starters

The battle for the starting job is one to watch in training camp, and it's fairly wide open. Last year's starter Dennis Pitta went down in an offseason workout with his third major hip injury, which is expected to end his career. That means the Ravens have to find a way to replace Pitta and the team-high 86 receptions he snagged last season. Watson has the most experience, but he has to show he's fully recovered from the torn Achilles he suffered last preseason. If the season started today, Boyle would likely get the starting nod after he was the only healthy tight end throughout the entire offseason program.

Key Role Players

The Ravens want to build a rock-solid running game, and that means they will likely use a heavy dose of double tight end sets. Gillmore and Boyle are probably the team's strongest blockers, and Williams is a bit of a wild card. He only played four games last season before going on injured reserve with a knee injury. He underwent surgery that had never been performed on a football player, and he's yet to be fully cleared for practice. The former second-round pick could carve out an important role when he returns, but he first has to get himself fully healthy again.

Most Anticipated Battle

There is no runaway favorite for the starting job, and it could turn out to be the last man standing. Waller won't be in the mix because he's suspended for the entire season, but Watson, Boyle, Williams and Gillmore all have experience in the starting lineup. The job will go to whoever can stay healthy, and also whoever proves the most valuable asset in both the run and pass game.

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