Rookie Report, Week 1
Last week was an eye-popping ‘Welcome to the NFL’ for a few Ravens rookies, but as we look ahead to Week 2 when the Ravens welcome the Arizona Cardinals, how much of the same can we expect?
Don’t worry: this isn’t a negativity-based blog. I too am riding high on this Ravens hype train right now!
Let’s take a quick look back at the rookie contributions from last week, and what we can expect this week.
The IA Rookies
I’ll start with the teaser – but a noteworthy one – as five Ravens rookies have yet to make their NFL debuts thanks to being listed as healthy scratches prior to the game.
The list includes LB Jaylon Ferguson, LB Otaro Alaka, DL Daylon Mack, OG Ben Powers, and QB Trace McSorley.
Of course it’s very likely that these same players will be inactive this week, but let’s have some fun with it and guess which one player has the best shot to see his first regular season NFL snaps.
Out of the gates I’m out on McSorley and Powers. The former isn’t necessary when Bob has shown he’s a full go as QB2, and Powers being IA last week, while undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari was active, was telling that Powers is just a reserve for the time being. Alaka, while I love his ceiling, is iLB4 and not needed either with three healthy guys in Peanut, Board and Kenny Young ahead of him. Now down to just Mack and Ferguson… I’m going to go with Mack here. The Ravens rotation on the D-Line was shortened with Mack inactive and Patrick Ricard seeing a good bit of offensive snaps at Fullback. I think Mack could see some time this week bullying a lackluster Cardinals O-Line.
Ferguson being active wouldn’t shock me either, should the Ravens feel his pass rush will be needed to bear down on rookie QB Kyler Murray.
After last week’s showing, I’m past the formalities of calling him ‘Marquise.’
This is Hollywoooooooooood!
I think it’s safe to say the first-round rookie showed us how electrifying he can be, how potent his second gear is, and how he’s more than just a burner to take the top off the defense. Brown mixed in a few different routes, accumulated some serious YAC, and showed that even in his short time with Lamar Jackson, they’ve found themselves in sync.
One caveat to point out with Hollywood in regards to a Week 2 ceiling: his snap count.
Brown only accounted for 14 (18%) of offensive snaps for the Ravens last week. Granted, he did make the best of those snaps, but what we can expect this week hinges largely on how the team justifies his snap count last week. Was Harbaugh limiting Brown’s reps as a means to slowly work Brown in? Was he used less because they took a big lead and it wasn’t worth the risk? Will those snaps steadily increase over each week, or is this the norm for the time being?
My theory is that Brown was starting slow, and will gradually his increase reps. That being said, I expect slightly more looks this week – and more receptions – but to expect he duplicates his pair of deep touchdowns might be pushing it a bit.
Prediction: 6 receptions, 8 targets, 95 yards, 1 TD (30% O snaps)
While Miles Boykin didn’t have a sexy stat line like fellow rookie Hollywood Brown, he did make his presence know with a score of his own, while working 24% of the offensive snaps for the Ravens on Sunday.
On Boykin’s touchdown, the chemistry between he and Jackson was obvious, as Jackson had a free runner bearing down on him, saw Boykin breaking to the corner of the end zone with a defender on his hip, and threw the ball behind Boykin to get him to break back towards the middle, thus shaking his defender and putting six on the board.
Boykin’s size didn’t necessarily come into play on this touchdown, but I have a feeling we’ll be seeing many more end zone looks for Boykin that use his size as a mismatch, notably this weekend versus a weak Cardinals secondary.
Look for increased reps, increased targets, and increased production from the rookie.
Prediction: 3 receptions, 5 targets, 46 yards
Last week, I expected Justice Hill to get mop up duty more than anything.
He surprised me with some first half snaps (his best of the game was a 13-yard pitch play on the first series of the game that almost found the end zone), but the majority of Hill’s work did come in the second half with the Ravens up big. The official snap split in the backfield ended up right around 40-40-20 for Ingram, Edwards, and Hill respectively, but touches favored Edwards (17), followed by Ingram (14) then Hill (7). Hill had two of his 7 carries in the first half.
Specifically looking at Hill, we saw some good stuff… and one glaring concern we’ve had for a while now.
On a positive note, Hill showed his ability to split wide, run solid routes and find open space (0 targets on the day) in the passing game, while his vision on his runs was effective (a few carries he had defenders in his face before he could see the line of scrimmage) as was his speed on the edge.
The concern I had was in the pass pro once again. Particularly on the second drive of the game for the Ravens where Hill took a fake handoff and was the lead blocker for Jackson. He missed an easy chip, then ran past the two defenders that took Lamar down.
If Hill wants more love, that pass pro is going to be key. Regardless, here’s another rookie I expect a slight uptick in touches from.
Prediction: 9 carries for 39 yards (4.3 for #43), 2 receptions for 10 yards
Mekari surprised me being active over Ben Powers, but I think the first-team preseason usage Mekari had should’ve been a clear tell that this is the current pecking order.
With that said, Mekari was never going to be the starting LG for the Ravens over Bozeman, but he did manage to see some time behind Yanda as the RG in the 4th quarter once RG III came in to relieve Lamar Jackson.
I think it’s obvious the Ravens are planning for their post-Yanda life, as he’s surely hanging the cleats up sooner rather than later, but for the time being, the best way to keep your veteran studs healthy is to keep them rested.
I expect more of the same if the Ravens get into a blowout as they did last week.
Prediction: Backup, plays during RGIII mop-up snaps in Q4