Five Ravens Bound To Break Out In 2014Posted on February 28, 2014 by Phil Gentile
The NFL offseason is officially here and that means the Ravens roster will look very different in a couple months. Free agency often causes teams to lose some talented pieces but even more so here in Baltimore, where Ozzie Newsome, Eric Decosta, and the rest of the front office does an outstanding job at acquiring young talent. Here are five players that could step up if players at their position leave Charm City.
Safety Matt Elam
Some Ravens fans had mixed emotions when the team took the Florida safety in last year's NFL Draft. He proved to be more of a hard hitter/tackling machine than the playmaking ballhawk that fans were familiar with from Ed Reed's days in Charm City. While Elam only had one interception during his rookie campaign he did record 77 tackles and seemed more and more comfortable week after week. Look for James Ihedigbo to find starting gig elsewhere. A switch to strong safety next season will only help Elam continue to develop into a Pro Bowl talent.
Wide Receiver Aaron Mellette
A 7th round pick last year, Mellette led the Football Championship Subdivision in receptions (113) and receiving yards (1,639) during his junior year and hauled in 18 touchdowns during his senior campaign. The Ravens liked his size and potential and the Elon alum responded during the preseason, catching nine passes for 140 yards and two touchdown. A knee injury cost him the entire regular season but according to Rotoworld he's been cleared to begin running. If healthy I could see Mellette having a Marlon Brown-type breakout given Kubiak's new offense and Flacco's penchant for chucking the rock.
Defensive End DeAngelo Tyson
Arthur Jones will likely get a Ellerbe/Kruger type deal this offseason, leaving the defensive line low on depth. Luckily DeAngelo Tyson has proven that he is ready for a larger role. Tyson showed a knack for getting to opposing quarterbacks and could help a defense that ranked 16th in sacks (40) last season. Next Man Up!
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk
Vonta Leach and his $2.33 million price tag was one of the first cuts the front office made this offseason. Juszczyk, who played some h-back and tight end during his time at Harvard, is cheaper and more versatile than Leach. Had 52 catches in his senior year so getting him into the lineup will give Flacco another receiving threat out of the backfield. Will his blocking ability stack up against Leach? That's the big question.
Tight End Matt Furstenberg
Do you know how many tight ends the Ravens have on their active roster? Zero! Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, and Dallas Clark are free agents and it appears the only one that might come back is Pitta. Furstenberg was undrafted gem out of Maryland who shined in the preseason and impressed fellow players and coaches during training camp. Coach John Harbaugh told the media, “Matt has really improved from the minicamp… He’s learned what he is doing and he’s made some plays. It seems like he is getting more confident every single day and he’s doing a really good job. He’s playing himself into a possible opportunity to make the team.” . Whether Pitta returns expect Furstenberg to be his backup and see some regular season action in 2014.