It’s easy to dismiss Kamalai Correa as yet another Baltimore Ravens second-round bust. Like several before him such as Arthur Brown, Sergio Kindle, Terrence Cody and Dan Cody, Correa contributed very little in 2016, the victim of coaches force feeding him too much, too soon at a new position.
But don’t judge so quickly.
Correa is an excellent athlete with a nose for the football and plus instincts. He also plays with a passion for the game and it’s that passion that will motivate his command of the playbook this offseason and allow those instincts to make a difference on the field.
Last year during training camp, Dennis Pitta ran that seam route along the left hash mark that you’ve seen many times before. Correa dropped back, leaped and snagged the touch pass from Joe Flacco before it dropped into the waiting hands of Pitta.
His assignment was simple. The results were uncommon.
The Ravens coaching staff needs to leverage these skills and put them in positions to succeed instead of cramming him into their system. You know, like they did with John Simon.
Take it to The Maxx
Another second-round pick that will be watched closely in 2017 is Maxx Williams. But you have to wonder about the team’s collective confidence in Williams. Having three young tight ends with potential (Williams, Crockett Gillmore, Nick Boyle) the Ravens still reached into the free agent pool in 2016 to sign Ben Watson.
Perhaps the Ravens have seen enough of Williams to know that he probably wasn’t worth moving up in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft to select. There are also some murmurs around Owings Mills that Williams’ knee issues could linger into 2017, possibly even beyond.
By this time next year Williams’ name might be listed beside the aforementioned second-round busts.
Or maybe the lights will finally come on for the former Golden Gopher.
Last year the Ravens were borderline ecstatic after making their selection in Round 6, the 182nd overall. Keenan Reynolds was going to be the team’s punt returner and make the conversion to slot receiver.
The plan never materialized.
During camp Reynolds played slow. Learning a new position in the NFL is a major challenge, as evidence by Correa’s rookie season. He was slow in and out of his breaks. The suddenness we expected never arrived. The mental challenges diffused his innate physical skills and dashed his swagger.
But recently we learned that Reynolds’ failures as a rookie were the byproducts of more than just cerebral adjustments.
“I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was,” Reynolds said. “I was in for a rude awakening when I got [to Baltimore].”
According to a piece recently published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The physical demands of the position are part of it. He said he needed to get in shape to play wide receiver, particularly the running. He has handled it by “prehabbing” (strengthening a part of the body to help prevent an injury) and being more conscious of what his body needs to get ready for practice and to recover, such as gaining strength or flexibility.
For Correa, Williams and Reynolds, the opportunities are there for the taking. They’ll each get their chance. What they do with them remains to be seen.