The Ravens did us beat reporters a minor disservice on Saturday afternoon, drafting Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk, whose surname will leave behind many red squiggly lines as we learn to spell it, in the fourth round.
It’s too soon to say that this did a disservice to Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach, whose future could be in doubt.
“I couldn't ask for a better mentor,” Juszczyk said Saturday. “I think he's been the best fullback in the league.”
As we have seen for two years, Leach is probably the best blocking fullback in the NFL, and he has the dented facemasks to prove it. But Juszczyk appears to be a better fit for the future as the Ravens, with quarterback Joe Flacco, continue to modernize their offense.
The Crimson did not use Juszczyk as a traditional fullback. He was a running back, a fullback and a tight end. At times, the coaching staff also used Juszczyk, who was a Wildcat quarterback in high school, as a slot receiver. As a senior, he had a team-high 52 receptions for 706 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
In a conference call, he said the Ravens would use him as a “move fullback” or H-back, someone who can lineup in the backfield or move out to tight end. We have seen Ed Dickson be used in this way a little bit, but a good example of this is how Houston used James Casey and Washington used Chris Cooley for years.
“When they spoke to me they mentioned as kind of a move fullback, someone they can use to line up in a lot of different formations,” said Juszczyk, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 248 pounds.
That is obviously a lot different than how the Ravens have used Leach. Sure, they occasionally motioned Leach out of the backfield to line up as a blocking tight end or out wide as a receiver. But he was mostly used to bulldoze linebackers out of Ray Rice’s way.
Juszczyk would really give them position flexibility, allowing them to keep him on the field more often than Leach, who played just 42 percent of the offensive snaps in 2012. Hypothetically, the Ravens could, for example, use two wide receivers, Rice, tight end Dennis Pitta and Juszczyk in their no-huddle offense and call a Power-I run play one snap then go five wide the next without substituting.
“I don't think I'm that traditional old-school kind of fullback who's going to run isos all day. Although I feel like that's something I can be effective at. I think there are other ways I can be used," he said.
Of course, the Ravens just drafted the kid and who knows how he will pan out -- I’m sure some fans are already groaning after they drafted a fullback over a wide receiver -- but I think this draft pick is interesting. It will also add a little drama during training camp.