There has been increasing buzz lately surrounding Ravens tight end John Brown. Reports out of training camp have indicated that Brown looks really good, and that he could become a big part of the offense.
Baltimore has completely revamped its personnel on the offensive side of the ball. The defense was already very strong last season, attacking the ball and getting a whole bunch of turnovers. Despite the added opportunities, Joe Flacco and the offense struggled to do much with those extra possessions.The team’s current depth chart has Brown as a starter in two-wide sets, meaning he should get plenty of snaps and playing time. Breshad Perriman has struggled to stay healthy, and he has yet to provide any consistent contributions even when he is on the field. Ozzie Newsome was aggressive this offseason, signing wide receivers Michael Crabtree from the Raiders and John Brown from the Cardinals.
This will be a crucial season for Flacco, as the Ravens traded back into the end of the first round just to make sure they get former Louisville and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson. If the team is unsatisfied with Flacco, we could even see Jackson make an appearance as early as this season.
The buzz around Brown seems to be getting blown out of proportion. Brown seems like an annual favorites of the media, who constantly talk him up beyond what we have seen on the field. To his credit, Brown has flashed his speed and playmaking abilities at times, but not at a level that even nears the hype.
In his first four seasons in the league (all with the Cardinals), Brown has only surpassed the 1,000 yard mark once. That was back in 2015, when he tallied 65 catches for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns. But over the past two seasons, Brown had 517 and 299 yards, respectively, with just two and three scores in each of those years.
Moreover, the presence of ball hog Michael Crabtree doesn’t bode well for Brown’s potential production. Crabtree was a major hindrance on the far more talented Amari Cooper in Oakland over the past couple of seasons, due to his sure hands, solid route running skills, and his nose for the end zone. It just seems like a stretch to expect Brown to suddenly become “the guy” in this offense and with the superior Crabtree on the other side of the field.
The Ravens are generally a running team, or at least that’s what they aspire to be. Alex Collins, who took over the starting gig during the 2017 season, appears ready to take an an even bigger role in the team’s future game plans. Collins was able to accumulate 973 rushing yards and six touchdowns on just 212 carries, reaching 4.6 yards per carry in the process. And despite passing game specialist Buck Allen, Collins was still able to record 23 catches for 187 yards. Both of these backs along with the tight ends should garner enough attention from Flacco to limit Brown’s 2018 ceiling.
Brown has the potential to be a star in the NFL. But he has yet to display top level route running skills to be a consistent threat to opposing defenses. He really needs to step up his game in order to justify the hype he’s getting. Of course, staying healthy would really go a long way in helping him reach his goals, as he only played in ten games last season.