The Baltimore Ravens have one of the best reputations in the NFL when it comes to the NFL Draft and utilizing each draft to its’ fullest potential. This year they selected ten players and it is pretty easy to visualize a role for each one of them, but one of the most important draftees from this year’s class will be FB/TE Kyle Juszczyk.
Selected in the fourth round out of Harvard, Juszczyk is one of the more versatile players in the draft and brings a wide variety of options to the Ravens offense. Juszcyk could come in to pick up the tough yards on third and short, sit back and pass protect for Joe Flacco, open up a running lane for Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce, and even get out in open space to catch the football and do some damage.
First we will look at the most obvious benefit of Juszczyk is the whole Vonta Leach situation as now the Ravens offense will not be left without a fullback after Leach and the Ravens could not agree to a restructured deal that ultimately ended with his release.
Juszczyk was a guy who was a triple threat at Harvard. At times he ran the football exclusively, other times he blocked exclusively and the most versatile aspect of his game; at times he caught the ball exclusively. He is a legitimate triple threat at the fullback position which is going to bring loads of options to this Ravens offense and Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell.
Baltimore will certainly use Juszczyk in a variety of ways throughout the season, which will likely include special teams play as well, but let’s look at some specific ways he will help this offense.
As aforementioned, he will serve as the starting fullback on the roster so the obvious first way he helps this offense is by opening up holes for Rice and Pierce, while also pass blocking for Flacco.
Also, Juszczyk could see a lot of carries on short yardage situations as he does bring a 6'1'' 248 pound frame, which will be a load for opposing defenses to tackle. He will also be able to sneak out of the backfield on certain pass plays and serve as a check down for Flacco, much like we saw at times with Leach last season.
The most important and most versatile way Juszczyk will help this offense? It may surprise you, but he will help fill the void of Anquan Boldin’s departure in an indirect way. With Boldin now in San Francisco, the biggest question for Baltimore this offseason has been the wide receiving core and how they will replace the production of Boldin. Many experts feel that we will see TE Dennis Pitta line up a lot in the slot this season, which would leave the unsure hands of Ed Dickson in the tight end spot. Enter Juszczyk.
Kyle can has and will line up as the tight end, which will still put a reliable blocker at the position, but provide the Ravens offense with a much better receiving option than Dickson, thus allow Pitta to line up in the slot, without losing a legitimate receiving threat at the tight end position on those plays.
Baltimore lives by the motto of “next man up” and by drafting Juszczyk, they have given themselves many more options on the offensive side of the football while also backing themselves up in case the Leach situation resulted in the way it did. Get used to having to pronounce his name Ravens fans because Juszczyk is going to be a major factor this season.
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