If you were tasked with selecting the one member of the Ravens’ 2018 draft class who has been the most productive, it would be difficult to argue against picking tight end Mark Andrews.
Yes, inside linebacker Kenny Young has worked himself into the defensive rotation. Orlando Brown Jr. might have put himself into the conversation for continuing to start at right tackle even after James Hurst returns from a back injury. And coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that it might be time for quarterback Lamar Jackson to get at least one series in a game instead of the occasional snap.
But Andrews, 23, appears to be validating the organization’s decision to use the second of two third-round picks in April’s NFL draft on the former Oklahoma standout. He ranks fourth on the offense in receiving yards (244) and fifth in catches (21) and is tied for second in touchdown receptions (two).
From Scottsdale, Ariz., to the University of Oklahoma to Baltimore, rookie tight end Mark Andrews has preached the same message to children once like him: Diabetes doesn’t define you. It’s only a part of you.
“It’s all about contributing and I feel like I’m doing a good job of contributing right now,” he said after catching three passes for 50 yards in Sunday’s 23-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. “But I feel like I can do more. I feel like I can make more of an impact, and hopefully going forward, I will.”
The 6-foot-5, 256-pound Andrews, who has been diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes and wears an insulin pump except when he’s playing football, has outperformed fellow tight end Hayden Hurst, the franchise’s first of two first-round choices who missed the first four games while recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot.
“I think everybody is seeing what he can do,” tight ends coach/assistant head coach Greg Roman said Tuesday of Andrews. “He’s still a young guy, still learning. He’s gaining very valuable experience. All that experience will iterate through time with him. He’s that kind of guy.”
Andrews, who led all tight ends at the Football Bowl Subdivision level a year ago in yards with 958 en route to winning the John Mackey Award, given to the country’s best player at that position, said his objective in the final seven games of the regular season is to further his development.
“I’ve always been kind of a guy that is very good at routes and getting open and all that stuff,” he said. “So what I’m doing here and getting open and catching balls, it’s not surprising. That’s one of those things. So I was confident in that, and I’m just continuing to work on my whole game and become a complete tight end and help this team out in any way possible.”
Here’s a look at how the rest of the 2018 rookie class has fared so far:
If the Ravens had to play a game Tuesday, offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris said, Brown would start. Beyond that, he could not say.
Tight end Hayden Hurst (first round, No. 25 overall)
After catching just one pass for seven yards in his first three games since returning from foot surgery, the 25-year-old Hurst has caught three passes for 50 yards and one touchdown in his past two games. “I think he had five or six weeks where he was on the shelf with a very serious injury,” Roman said. “He was able to overcome that, and I think every week you’re seeing a little bit more and more of what Hayden can do as well.”
Key numbers: 57 snaps in first three games, 57 snaps in past two.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson (first round, No. 32)
Although the 21-year-old Jackson is not a current threat to unseat Joe Flacco as the starter, Harbaugh opened the possibility of putting Jackson under center more often, and quarterbacks coach James Urban did not disagree with that sentiment. “We’re evaluating everything, in terms of that,” Urban said Tuesday. “I do know that it would not be done to benefit Lamar Jackson. It would be done to benefit the Baltimore Ravens and our offense trying to score points and get the ball in the end zone.”
Key numbers: 28 carries for 139 yards, one touchdown; 7-for-12 passing for 87 yards, one touchdown.
Right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. (third round, No. 83)
Brown’s play could give the offense some flexibility along the front five, where James Hurst could replace left guard Alex Lewis, who missed two games because of a pinched nerve in his neck. “I think he’s growing as a young man,” offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris said Tuesday of Brown. “He’s learning to be a pro. They did a wonderful job out in Oklahoma with him also. … He’s come here [and] learned a different game, a different style, and he’s grasped it.”
Through nine weeks, Lamar Jackson has mostly been used as a wild-card dual-threat option in the Ravens offense.
Cornerback Anthony Averett (fourth round, No. 118)
After playing in the team’s first two games, the 23-year-old Averett suffered a hamstring injury during practice and was sidelined for five consecutive games. He played in losses to the Carolina Panthers and Steelers in back-to-back weeks, but did not record a statistic. Averett fortifies a cornerback group that might also welcome back Maurice Canady (hamstring) if he is activated from injured reserve soon.
Key numbers: One tackle, one pass breakup.
Inside linebacker Kenny Young (fourth round, No. 122)
After competing with incumbent Patrick Onwuasor in training camp for one of the starting inside linebacker spots, the 22-year-old Young has become a familiar and frequent face in the defensive rotation. He has played 250 snaps, just eight fewer than Onwuasor’s workload thus far, and he started three straight games against the Denver Broncos, the Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.
Key numbers: 36 tackles, 2½ sacks.
Wide receiver Jaleel Scott (fourth round, No. 132)
The 23-year-old Scott has been on injured reserve since Aug. 27 because of a hamstring injury.
Wide receiver Jordan Lasley (fifth round, No. 162)
A hamstring tweak and team needs at other positions have made the 22-year-old Lasley inactive in every game thus far. Lasley said he has avoided feeling frustrated because he went through a similar situation during his freshman year at UCLA. “Yeah, I want to play just like everybody else, but I understand the situation, and I know the business,” he said. “If I get a chance to get out there, I’ll get out there.”
Safety DeShon Elliott (sixth round, No. 190)
The 21-year-old Elliott has been on injured reserve since Aug. 31 because of a fractured forearm.
Offensive tackle Greg Senat (sixth round, No. 212)
The 24-year-old Senat has been on injured reserve since Aug. 31 because of a foot injury.
Guard Bradley Bozeman (sixth round, No. 215)
The 23-year-old Bozeman went four straight games without playing an offensive snap, but that all changed when Lewis suffered his neck injury at the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 14. Bozeman replaced Lewis at left guard in that game and started the next one against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 21. But a left calf injury against the Saints kept him on the sideline against the Panthers and Steelers. Still, a healthy Bozeman provides the offensive line with some much-needed depth.
Defensive end Zach Sieler (seventh round, No. 238)
The 23-year-old Sieler got the first tackle of his NFL career in Sunday’s loss to the Steelers. The first player drafted from Ferris State, Sieler credited teammates such as Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams for dispensing advice. “Obviously, this is a whole new level from college to the NFL, different speeds,” he said. “For me, I’m just trying to take every day as I can and absorb as much as I can and just be a sponge.”
Key numbers: Seven games as a healthy scratch.
The rookies will have seven more games after the bye week to add the finishing touches to their seasons. So far, Harbaugh said he likes what he has seen from the draft class.
“We’ve worked those guys,” he said. “They come in, [and] we keep them two weeks after the vets leave. In the summer, we bring them in. And they work at it. And because of that, they’re playing for us. We need them to play for us. You watch them play, they can play better. So we keep chasing that, but I’m really pleased with the way those guys are playing.”