The Ravens drafted Dennis Pitta in the fourth round in 2010. They haven’t taken a pass-catching tight end since, and Pitta’s career is now over because of hip injuries.
With Benjamin Watson possibly retiring this offseason and Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams used more as blockers, the Ravens have a big need.
Here are some of the top talents at the Senior Bowl:
Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
6-foot-4, 260 pounds; Draft projection – Rounds 2-3
Goedert may be the first FCS prospect taken in this year’s draft. He dominated his level of competition with 164 catches for 3,404 yards and 18 touchdowns over his final two seasons. Goedert was mainly a basketball player until his senior year of high school, and it shows. He has great size, excellent body control and boxes out defenders routinely. A one-handed touchdown catch on an end zone fade has to be seen to be believed. Goedert had a lot to prove against better competition this week, and got off to a good start before unfortunately tweaking his hamstring on Day 1.
Mike Gesicki, Penn State
6-5, 242; Draft projection – Rounds 3-5
The first recruiting letter Gesicki received from Penn State wasn’t for football. It was from the head volleyball coach. Gesicki’s volleyball background is evident in his leaping ability and overall athleticism. In addition to volleyball, he was a star high school basketball player and MVP of New Jersey’s all-star squad. He’s leaner than some of his counterparts, but his long strider eats up space and he can bend. Gesicki has made the most plays of any tight end so far.
Adam Breneman, Massachusetts
6-4, 241; Draft projection – Rounds 3-5
Breneman is one of the Senior Bowl’s most intriguing prospects. A top Penn State recruit and mentor for Gesicki, Breneman graduated in three years with a degree in business management and political science. After two years essentially lost to injury, he was offered a chief of staff job at 21 years old for a Pennsylvania state senator, but declined and instead transferred to U-Mass. Over the last two years, he posted huge numbers with 134 catches for 1,572 yards and 12 touchdowns. Like Goedert, however, he went down with an injury on Day 1 of the Senior Bowl practices.
Ian Thomas, Indiana
6-3, 256; Draft projection – Rounds 3-5
Thomas is a Baltimore native with a difficult upbringing. His mother died on his 8th birthday and his father passed away one year later. He was raised by his oldest brother in a rough part of the city. Thomas pursued his dreams of football and made it to Indiana, where he was a late bloomer. He didn’t see much action until his senior year, when he caught 25 passes for 376 yards and five scores. Still, he has an alluring blend of size and athleticism. Thomas did well with extra reps with the South squad teammates Goedert and Breneman out.
Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
6-4, 247; Draft projection – Rounds 3-5
Fumagalli may be the most sure-handed pass-catching tight end, and he has just nine fingers. Yes, that’s correct. His left index finger was amputated when he was just a few days old after he was born with amniotic band syndrome, where the umbilical cord was wrapped around his left hand. That didn’t stop Fumagalli from making 93 catches for 1,127 yards and six touchdowns over his final two seasons. He’s also a strong blocker and key piece of Wisconsin’s heavy rushing attack.