The Ravens qualified for the postseason for the third straight year and registered their first playoff victory in six years, but where did their individual players stack up across the NFL in such an unusual 2020 campaign?
Whether it’s discussing the Pro Bowl or handing out postseason honors, media and fans spend much time discussing where players rank at any given position, but very few watch every player on every team closely enough to develop opinions as informed as we’d like to believe.
Truthfully, how many times did you watch the Detroit Lions linebackers this season? What about the Las Vegas Raiders offensive line? And the Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks?
That’s why I respect the efforts of Pro Football Focus while admitting their grades are hardly the gospel of player assessment. The exhaustive effort to evaluate players across the league shouldn’t be dismissed when most of us watch one team or maybe one division closely on any kind of a regular basis.
We’ll look at each positional group on the Baltimore roster in the coming days, but below is a look at where Ravens tight ends stacked up across the NFL this past season followed by a positional outlook going into 2021:
2020 offensive snap count: 597
PFF ranking: 10th out of 71 qualified tight ends
2021 Week 1 age: 26
Skinny: The monster 2020 season some anticipated never came to fruition for the 2019 Pro Bowl selection, but Andrews remained a standout performer despite his yards after catch per reception and average depth of target dipping from the previous year. He’s the only tight end in Ravens history to produce multiple seasons of at least 700 receiving yards and seven touchdown catches, illustrating how valuable he’s been to star quarterback Lamar Jackson.
2020 offensive snap count: 380
PFF ranking: 17th out of 71 qualified tight ends
2021 Week 1 age: 28
Skinny: His production as a receiver dipped from his career-best 2019 campaign, but his blocking remained very valuable before Boyle suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 10. Baltimore recently extending Boyle’s contract through 2023 not only lowered his salary cap number for the upcoming season, but it illustrated the organization’s confidence in a healthy return from the injury.
2020 offensive snap count: 123
PFF ranking: n/a
2021 Week 1 age: 29
Skinny: The Ravens also gave opportunities to Luke Willson and Sean Culkin in Boyle’s absence before Tomlinson settled into the No. 2 tight end role, showing off good blocking ability. That prompted general manager Eric DeCosta to re-sign him for 2021 despite the journeyman not registering a catch in eight games including the postseason.
2021 positional outlook
The decision to trade former first-round pick Hayden Hurst to Atlanta last March netted good value that turned into standout rookie running back J.K. Dobbins, but the decision not to invest more in replacing him left the Ravens chasing their record-setting 2019 identity that so prominently featured the use of multiple tight ends. That problem was only compounded when Boyle was lost for the season despite the best efforts of Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard and Tomlinson to pick up the slack down the stretch. The Ravens will welcome Boyle’s return to the field and do have a pair of developmental tight ends in Jake Breeland and Eli Wolf to monitor, but DeCosta recently describing the Ravens as having “a tight end-centric offense” suggests a need to make a meaningful addition to the group for 2021, especially with Andrews entering the final year of his rookie contract.