After cutting Vonta Leach loose in the off-season, 2nd year FB/ H-Back Kyle Juszczyk is slated to start in 2014 with an opportunity made of solid gold knocking at the door.
Juszczyk, 23, has a ton of upside as an H-Back due to his versatility, toughness and receiving ability, and thanks to the arrival of offensive genius Gary Kubiak, he has the potential and the opportunity to become the Ravens breakout player on offense in 2014.
Kubiak’s high-powered attack features a heavy dose of H-backs, while Kubiak himself is undoubtedly the best OC in the NFL at utilizing the H-Back, and in return, his H-Backs respond by putting up solid numbers while becoming an invaluable part of the Offense.
The most notable example is current Eagles H-Back James Casey, who put up 52 receptions for 590 yards (11.3 avg.) and 4 TD’s as the featured H-Back on Kubiak’s Texans squad in 2011 and 2012, and Garrett Graham, who also saw time at H-Back in 2012 and racked up 28 catches for 263 yards (9.4 avg.) and 3 TD’s. Graham saw time at H-Back in the early stages of 2013, before taking over as the starting TE after current Ravens TE Owen Daniels was lost for the season in week 5 due to a fractured fibula.
After completing his collegiate career with the Harvard Crimson ranked 6th in receptions (125), 7th in receiving yards (1,576) and 3rd in TD’s (22), Juszczyk was drafted in the 4th Round of the 2013 NFL Draft and appeared on ST in all 16 games last season, recording 5 tackles.
Looking beyond Juszczyk’s skill set as an H-Back, ”Juice” is also Ivy-league smart (Literally) on and off of the field and he was impressive in pass protection last preseason. But with Leach off to the city that never sleeps, he’s going to have to step up as a lead blocker for Ray Rice & Co.
The spotlight will be on the Harvard grad this summer to prove that his lead blocking skills in the run game have improved but drawing from his tenure at Cambridge, Ravens fans should feel confident that Juice can make it happen at the next level. Juszczyk was a rock-solid blocker in all phases of the game at Harvard, and after a year of learning behind Leach and making the transition from the Ivy League to the NFL, look for Juszczyk to put an end to this lingering question this summer.
For Juszczyk, 2014 is a perfect situation in every sense of the term. If the plan goes off without a hitch, look for Juice to become Kubiak’s Swiss-army knife on offense, not only making an impact in the passing game but also by paving the way for ball carriers and by stepping up and becoming Joe Flacco’s bodyguard in the backfield.
Mr. Juszczyk, the opportunity of a lifetime is at your front door.