*"The Competition" is a BaltimoreRavens.com series that will break down every position leading up to training camp. *
Dennis Pitta (6-foot-4, 245 pounds, third season): Pitta is coming off a breakout season where he caught 40 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns. As last season went on, he grew more and more comfortable with quarterback Joe Flacco and was a popular target in clutch situations. Pitta has some of the most reliable hands on the team and the Ravens are counting on him to be a key component of the passing game this season.
Ed Dickson (6-4, 255, third season): Like Pitta, Dickson is coming off his first season as a key contributor, starting all 16 games and finishing second on the team with five touchdown grabs. He had 54 receptions on the year for 528 yards. Dickson is a good blend of size and speed, as he's able to beat linebackers in coverage and also outmuscle smaller defensive backs. Dickson said earlier this offseason that a focus going into the 2012 campaign is to eliminate some of the drops that plagued him at times last year.
Davon Drew (6-4, 260, first season): The 2009 fifth-round draft pick has spent much of the last two seasons on the Ravens practice squad and is now trying to earn his way onto the active roster. The big-bodied tight end could look to replace veteran Kris Wilson, who primarily served as an additional tight end in goal-line situations. Wilson was not re-signed as a free agent this offseason.
Matt Balasavage (6-4, 256, Temple): The Ravens signed Balasavage as an undrafted free agent after a tryout during a rookie minicamp in May. He was mostly a blocking tight end in college, as he caught six passes throughout his college career.
Bruce Figgins (6-4, 272, Georgia): The Ravens also signed Figgins after his tryout during rookie minicamp. The Georgia product played tight end and fullback during his college career, and had limited pass-catching opportunities. He caught 16 passes in 60 games.
The top two tight end spots are virtually locked up with Dickson and Pitta. It's unclear who will be the No. 1, but the Ravens use so many double tight end sets that both will see plenty of playing time. Also, both Pitta and Dickson are athletic enough to slide outside and play wide receiver at times.
Behind those two, Drew, Balasavage and Figgins will compete for the No. 3 spot during training camp. For that role, the Ravens will likely look for the player that is versatile enough to block in goal-line situations, catch passes over the middle and make tackles on special teams. None of those players appears to have separated himself at this point.
The Ravens only kept three tight ends on the active roster last season, so the likely scenario is that two of these players will end up getting released or placed on the practice squad.