Last season, the Ravens got meaningful contributions from a few rookies, including second-round draft picks Courtney Upshaw and Kelechi Osemele. But where did they rank in terms of snaps played by first-year players?
The Cleveland Browns, led by starting quarterback Brandon Weeden and top running back Trent Richardson, led the league in snaps by rookies. Their 17 rookies played 26.4 percent of Cleveland's snaps last season. The Ravens' other AFC North rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, were fifth and 24th, respectively.
But outside of teams such as the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks who started standout rookies at quarterback, you could argue that few teams got more significant contributions from their rookies.
Osemele played 93 percent of the team’s offensive snaps during the regular season -- only two players on the roster played more snaps overall -- and starred at left guard during the postseason.
Upshaw played 65 percent of the team’s defensive snaps during the regular season. He made 60 tackles and forced two fumbles.
Third-round pick Bernard Piece played 20 percent of the offensive snaps and was the team’s second-leading rusher with 532 yards and a touchdown. He added 202 rushing yards in the playoffs.
And undrafted free agent Justin Tucker made 30 of 33 field-goal attempts during the regular season and was perfect in the playoffs, including a 47-yard game-winner in double overtime in Denver.
In all, 13 rookies played for the Ravens last season, though only four -- Upshaw, Osemele, Pierce and seventh-rounder DeAngelo Tyson -- played more than 200 snaps during the regular season.
Still, how far would the Super Bowl champions have gone without the contributions they got from their fine rookie class in 2012?Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun