What To Expect From 10 Key Ravens
Set them too high and fall short, it’s a formula for disappointment.
Set reasonable expectations and overachieve, it’s a recipe for jubilation.
Ravens fans experienced such jubilation in 2001 and 2013 with cascading confetti following the 2000 and 2012 NFL seasons, respectively.
But expectations can be tricky. No one wants to be set up for a bitter end, but abnormally low expectations may trigger uninspiring efforts. So there’s a comfortable balance that is sought to manage achievement and expectations.
With this in mind, here’s a look at 10 Ravens – five who could surpass expectations and five who could fall short.
Carl Davis: Davis burst through the preseason gates impressively in 2015 but fizzled as his reps and playing time diminished as the season wore on. He dressed for 13 games and accumulated just 11 tackles. He played in only 3 of the team’s last 6 games. Similarly, during his rookie season Brandon Williams had only 6 tackles and a sack in 7 games. He suited up for just 1 of the team’s final 6 contests. In his sophomore season Williams played in all 16 games, starting 14 and contributing 46 tackles. Look for a similar spike in productivity from Davis.
Will Davis: The other Davis, the Ravens made a trade with the Dolphins on September 21, 2015 to acquire the corner in exchange for a 2016 7th-round pick. Davis was on the field for just 27 snaps before tearing his ACL, his second such injury within 13 months. Davis was particularly effective against the Steelers in Pittsburgh on October 1 as the nickel corner, a position many have believed he is well-equipped to handle since he exited Utah State as the Dolphins’ third-round pick in 2013. Look for Davis’ string of bad luck to end as he provides depth at nickel and should see some snaps when Dean Pees opts for his rarely used dime package.
Shareece Wright: Wright has the hip fluidity and instincts to mirror receivers in coverage and did exactly that for most of 2015 when given the opportunity. Many have dismissed him because Wright’s most memorable performance last season was also his worst. He was forced into action during the same week he was acquired as a free agent and then asked to take on his old team, the 49ers. To his credit he showed resilience and his confidence grew as the season unfolded. He finished as the 41st overall ranked corner in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. He’ll build upon his success and be a steady, reliable corner opposite Jimmy Smith in 2016.
Mike Wallace: Many have labeled Wallace as a free agent bust and with good reason. He never performed to the level of his contract in Miami or Minnesota. Last season he was miscast in an offense that relied on Adrian Peterson and lacked a vertical game given the limitations of Teddy Bridgewater. Miami wasn’t much different with Ryan Tannehill. He’s a much better fit for the long-ball capabilities of Joe Flacco.
That said, in 2013-2014 he averaged roughly 70 catches, 900 yards and 7 TD’s per season in Miami. Don’t be surprised if he approaches those yardage and TD totals as a battery mate of Flacco.
Crockett Gillmore: Before his season ending shoulder injury Gillmore was on pace to haul in 53 passes for 660 yards and 6 TD’s. Those number compare very favorably to those posted on average annually by Todd Heap during his Ravens career (47/550/4). Gillmore is big and athletic with a nasty streak and desire to add YAC. Maxx Williams might get a bit more fanfare given his draft status but in 2016 he’ll be looking up at the former Colorado State (battering) Ram in more ways than one.
Kamar Aiken: Aiken is a solid special teams player and clearly filled a void for the Ravens in 2015 given the injuries of Steve Smith, Sr., Breshad Perriman and Michael Campanaro along with the lackluster performances of Marlon Brown and Chris Givens. Aiken is a tough, dependable, team-first player who embodies the qualities that head coach John Harbaugh seeks in his players. But if things go well for the Ravens in 2016, Aiken will be fortunate to post 70% of the numbers he posted in 2015 (75/944/5).
Michael Campanaro: He’s a Julian Edelman clone when healthy but Campanaro lacks Edelman’s resiliency. The former Demon Deacon has played in just 10 games as a Raven with 12 catches for 137 yards and 1 TD. His potential is tantalizing but he’s on borrowed time and his job could be at risk with the arrival of Keenan Reynolds who has already been penciled in as a slot receiver and punt returner. That sounds like a job description for Campanaro but two players with those same responsibilities may represent redundancy that the Ravens can’t afford.
Terrell Suggs: Sizzle will turn 34 on October 11 and is coming off his second Achilles tear. Add the two together and it would be somewhat naïve to think that Suggs will perform as he did during his last healthy season when he registered 61 tackles and 12 sacks. Before the injury and during training camp last summer, Suggs hinted about possibly retiring after the 2015 season. When 2016 is said and done that possibility will become reality as the 2011 DPOY looks the part of a fading 14-year veteran. In other words, Sizzle is about to fizzle.
Maxx Williams: The most highly regarded tight end in the 2015 NFL Draft had a rather pedestrian rookie campaign with 32 catches for 268 yards and a score. He isn’t particularly big. He isn’t particularly fast. He isn’t particularly quick and you have to wonder what all the hoopla was about. With Gillmore’s emergence and the arrival of Ben Watson, we’ll be wondering the same things at this time next year.
CJ Mosley: After a fine rookie campaign that earned Pro Bowl honors, Mosley’s play slipped markedly, especially weak in coverage where he ranked 120th among NFL linebackers according to Pro Football Focus (40th overall). In 2015 Mosley was lost in space and was a big reason for opponents’ success on third and intermediate. He often trailed tight ends and running backs and with Daryl Smith gone and no full-time experienced inside backer beside him, there’s little reason to think things will get better before they get worse.
So there you have it – my five Ravens who I expect to exceed expectations in 2016 and five who will fall short.
Who makes your lists?
Brandon Stokley couldn't stay healthy w/ #Ravens, left for Indy and did well w/ Peyton. I could see a similar path for Campanaro and Brady.
— Tony Lombardi (@RSRLombardi) May 12, 2016