Ravens rookie wide receiver James Proche has drawn comparisons to Jarvis Landry because of his ability to catch the football and run clean, crisp routes.
Fellow rookie Devin Duvernay has the speed to take the top off a defense, much like Marquise Brown, and he will fight for a starting job in this year’s training camp.
The two young playmakers already have a connection.
Both Proche and Duvernay are both from Texas and have known each other since they were kids. They spent the offseason working out together in their native state with Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin III.
General manager Eric DeCosta was stunned when Duvernay fell to them in the third round of this year’s NFL draft from Texas. The Ravens are confident Duvernay will fit perfectly into their offense. He could be especially predictive in the slot where he had 104 receptions last season, second in the nation behind LSU’s Justin Jefferson (109), according to Pro Football Focus.
“I just like Devin’s competitive streak,” DeCosta said. “His nature – he’s a tough guy. He reminds me of a few guys that we’ve had here in Baltimore, and I’ll reference guys like Anquan [Boldin], Derrick Mason, and of course Steve Smith [Sr]. Those guys all had a competitive spirit about them that made them really stand out.
“I don’t think Devin is the biggest guy by any stretch, but he’s very tough, very physical, catches the ball really well, and he’s really tough with the football.”
Last season, Duvernay caught 106 passes for 1,341 yards — the second-most in school history — with nine touchdowns over 13 games. He earned first-team All-Big 12 honors for the first time in his career and was honorable mention as Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
“I bring versatility, toughness, physicality, being able to not just go deep [but] go short, take it the distance, be involved in the screen game and blocking,” Duvernay said. “I’ll kind of be an all-around player. I’m super excited. Ready to work. Ready to learn.”
Proche, a sixth-round pick from SMU, also brings some versatility to the offense. In addition to being a top-notch receiver, Proche also thrives on special teams, which could endear him to coach John Harbaugh. Last season, Proche led the Mustangs with 17 punt returns for 164 yards.
Proche is ready to embrace a key role on special teams and he’ll battle De’Anthony Thomas for the top job as the returner.
“I love punt return,” Proche said. “I really just love catching the ball. Anything that involves catching the ball and go make a play, that’s more what I do. As far as punt return goes, that’s something I feel comfortable [with], kind of being back there alone, having full control, judge the ball and showcase my abilities once I catch the ball.”
The Ravens like Proche’s instincts as a returner. That’s an area they’re looking to improve this season.
“He’s really instinctive, has really good vision,” said Joe Hortiz, the Ravens’ director of player personnel. “Again, he catches it really secure, but then he gets upfield quick. He doesn’t waste time trying to go east and west. He gets upfield and he has that vision and balance where he can make guys miss along the way and can get positive yards.”