When news broke yesterday that Baltimore Ravens tight end and pending free agent Crockett Gillmore will be converting to an offensive lineman, it further highlighted the team’s need to improve the tight end position this offseason.
Gillmore’s move to offensive line is intriguing as he is built like an offensive tackle, and perhaps a position with less hits involved may allow him to stay healthy more often. It would not be a surprise to see the Ravens bring Gillmore back on a one-year deal to see what he can offer at his new position.
With that said and with Gillmore now officially out of the mix at tight end in 2018, the group is starting to look thin. Benjamin Watson is set to hit free agency, and whether or not he retires still remains to be seen.
The remaining options are Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle, two underwhelming players for various reasons, and surely two players who have not shown enough as Ravens to warrant a guaranteed starting spot next season.
That leaves the team with free agency and the draft as outlets to upgrade the position. In free agency, big names such as Jimmy Graham, Trey Burton and Tyler Eifert are enticing, but given the state of Baltimore’s cap situation, it is likely a pipe dream to see any of the top tight end options in Baltimore in 2018.
The most likely route will be the draft, where this year’s crop lacks high-end talent compared to previous years, but offers plenty of depth on days two and three of the draft. Let’s dive in to the options the Ravens have in April’s draft.
Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
One of the most enticing tight end options given his upside as a receiver, Goedert has been linked to the Ravens as high as 16th overall. That may be a stretch, but as a target on the second day of the draft, Goedert would be intriguing.
The 6’5″ target totaled over 1,000 receiving yards in each of his last two seasons with South Dakota State, and would offer much more as a receiver than a blocker for the Ravens, which is quite frankly what the offense needs at this time.
Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
With a similar build to Goedert, Hurst is a more diverse option as he stayed in as an in-line blocker more often in South Carolina’s offense. That does not mean he is not a threat as a receiver, however, as he demonstrated big-play ability.
Hurst only totaled 100 receptions during his three-year career with the Gamecocks, so his sample size as a receiver is smaller than some, but his upside as a blocking and receiving talent could mesh well with Baltimore’s offense.
Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
If the Ravens simply want a big-bodied receiver to make plays in key situations for quarterback Joe Flacco, then Andrews may be the guy. Listed at 6’5″, 253 pounds, Andrews was essentially an oversized receiver in Oklahoma’s spread offense.
Andrews’ receiving ability may complement the blocking ability of Boyle well. As long as the Ravens feel confident enough that Boyle and Williams could get the job done as blockers, Andrews would be allowed to focus almost entirely on contributing as a receiver. Andrews may not be a complete tight end prospect, but he excels in the aspect that Baltimore most desperately needs assistance with at this time: receiving.