The Ravens left the NFL draft in April with high grades and glowing praise. They enter their bye week with a handful of rookies already in key roles, and several others coming on strong.
Patrick Queen became the Ravens' youngest-ever defensive starter. Devin Duvernay caught quarterback Lamar Jackson’s first pass of the season. J.K. Dobbins scored the Ravens' first rushing touchdown. Tyre Phillips continues to grow into his starting job along the offensive line.
With first-year contributions big and small, here’s a look at all 13 Ravens rookies who’ve either joined the 53-man roster or appeared in a game this season.
ILB Patrick Queen
Considering the circumstances — no minicamp, no preseason, starting just one month after turning 21 — Queen has impressed Ravens coaches and teammates. In six starts, the No. 28 overall pick has a team-high 44 tackles (two sacks and four for loss) along with two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown) and a pass defense.
Queen’s elite speed is an asset in defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s blitz schemes, and his tackling has been fairly reliable. The former LSU standout struggled in coverage early in the season, though, and is still learning to handle misdirection. According to Pro Football Focus, Queen has graded out as the NFL’s No. 68 inside linebacker, sixth best among qualifying rookies.
“The thing that I love about his game is, every game, [he] is making a step forward,” linebackers coach Mike Macdonald said in a video conference call Tuesday. "And the beautiful thing with Patrick’s game is, there’s so much room for improvement, and he’ll be the first guy to tell you that.
“But run-game-wise, really, the focus right now for us is just getting aligned right, looking at the right stuff, and then just playing as hard as we can and as physical as we can for the rest of the down. And you’ve seen the results up to this point. Great things happen when you’re constantly around the ball and you play really hard. Just staying on that trajectory — that’s the challenge for the next 10 weeks.”
RB J.K. Dobbins
With his 25 carries for 154 yards, Dobbins leads all first-year running backs in yards per carry (6.2). The second-round pick also has 11 catches on 14 targets for 74 yards. In a crowded running back room, he’s been the Ravens' most explosive option, with a 44-yard run in Week 2 and a 34-yard run in Week 6.
As starter Mark Ingram II recovers from a sprained ankle, Dobbins could be well positioned to take on a far greater role in the offense. He had a career-high 30 offensive snaps Sunday (41% overall), and the former Ohio State All-American’s receiving ability and elusiveness make him a more dynamic third-down option than Gus Edwards.
“I think every day, his athleticism, his physicality, his vision — all the things that make a great running back — show up on the field,” running backs coach Matt Weiss said in August. "I think honestly, though, I’ve been even more impressed with his mindset, his makeup, which is really his competitiveness, his work ethic. He’s kind of wired a little bit differently. …
“I knew that he was good that way, but sometimes you never really know until you get a guy in the building. I’ve been really impressed.”
DL Justin Madubuike
After missing the Ravens' first four games with a training camp knee injury, Madubuike hasn’t exactly been eased into the defensive line rotation. The third-round pick played 30 defensive snaps in Week 5, not far behind starters Brandon Williams (36) and Calais Campbell (34), and got another 25 on Sunday. Madubuike had a quarterback hit early in the win against the Cincinnati Bengals but has been otherwise quiet in the pass rush, where he starred for Texas A&M.
“He was really physical, really played hard and ran to the ball,” coach John Harbaugh said after Madubuike’s debut last week. “I thought he was a force in there. There are still a couple things, technique-wise; he got washed a little bit on some of the runs. He even told me that after the game in the locker room; he’s the first one talking about that. So he’ll be chasing improvement there, but it was a good start for him. I thought he played well.”
WR/KR Devin Duvernay
Duvernay was a Day 1 starter at kick returner, and the third-round pick is one of just two players to bring back a kickoff for a touchdown this season. He’s second in the NFL in return average (34.4 yards), behind only the Indianapolis Colts' Isaiah Rodgers (36.6 yards).
On offense, Duvernay’s role as a receiver has grown every week, especially with Miles Boykin’s recent struggles. Over the past four weeks, his number of offensive snaps has increased from seven to 16 to 18 to a career-high 26. Duvernay showed his speed with a 42-yard carry in Week 5, and the Ravens have targeted him on pass plays that get him into the open field (10 catches for 90 yards). His next step is refining his route running as an outside receiver; at Texas, Duvernay mostly excelled in the slot.
“He’s starting to feel comfortable with what we’re doing, and we’ve done some special things with him,” wide receivers coach David Culley said Tuesday. “You’ve seen with some reverses and some quick passes that he’s done very well, because he’s very good with the ball in his hands. At this point, he’s getting to the point where that’s going to expand, and it has expanded. This past week, he probably played twice as many snaps as he had played in any game this past year. It’s going to continue to do that.”
ILB Malik Harrison
After an up-and-down training camp, Harrison is third on the Ravens' depth chart, seeing most of his defensive snaps as an early-down inside linebacker. Like starter L.J. Fort, the former Ohio State star is a staple on special teams; through six games, including one start, Harrison has played more snaps there (107) than on defense (74). The third-round pick has 13 tackles and one pass defense.
“Malik is doing a great job,” Macdonald said Tuesday. “The thing about Malik’s role — and really the thing about our entire linebacker room that’s a beautiful thing — is, we’ve got guys who have earned a role in our defense. … But Malik is doing well. He’s being physical in the run game. He’s a smart guy. Same thing with ‘PQ’ [Patrick Queen]. He corrects his mistakes as he gets going. He should have a great second half of the year.”
G Tyre Phillips
After starting at left tackle for Mississippi State, Phillips entered training camp as a long shot to win the Ravens' right guard job. But the third-round pick has started five of six games at Marshal Yanda’s old spot, missing one because of a shoulder injury, and flashed his long-term potential. While Phillips has struggled as a run blocker and occasionally on blitz pickups, he’s No. 10 among NFL guards in ESPN’s pass-block win rate, which measures how often linemen can sustain their blocks for 2.5 seconds or longer.
“The way that he’s worked, the amount of time that he’s put in, the preparation week in, week out, just his focus throughout camp and his ability to earn that starting right guard spot, I think it says a lot about how he’s been [and] who he is,” right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said last month. “I think upper management and the coaches recognize that. He’s been really great to play next to. I’ve enjoyed it.”
G Ben Bredeson
Bredeson has appeared in just two games this season and been inactive for the other four. The fourth-round pick had an unremarkable training camp, but Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh told his brother, John, that Bredeson is “everything you want in a football player and a person.” With Patrick Mekari and Ben Powers ahead of him on the depth chart, Bredeson might have to wait until at least 2021 for more playing time.
DT Broderick Washington
With the Ravens' injuries up front, Washington has been surprisingly active this season, appearing in four games and playing at least 20 defensive snaps in three of them. The fifth-round pick from Texas Tech has one tackle while lining up mostly over opposing guards.
“He’s got a lot of talent, a lot of raw talent,” Williams said in August. "He’s definitely coming into his own and getting the playbook down. I told him first, ‘Once you get the playbook down, free your mind, free your feet. You can play a lot faster when you know everything you’re supposed to do.’ "
WR James Proche II
Proche has returned 15 punts for 131 yards, and his 8.7-yard average is one of the better rates among players with more than a few returns this season. Most importantly, though, the sixth-round pick hasn’t muffed a punt yet. The former Southern Methodist wide receiver hasn’t played on offense often — just 12 total snaps over three games — but Culley said he’s “progressing very well.”
“He’s got good quickness on the inside; he knows how to uncover there,” Culley said Tuesday. “Not having the preseason games, when you play on the inside, it’s a little bit different on the inside. Things happen a lot quicker. There’s a lot more traffic. … As we move along, I’m sure that role will end up expanding for him also.”
S Geno Stone
Stone was inactive for the Ravens' first four games, and the seventh-round pick rejoined the team on the practice squad after being waived to make room for cornerback Khalil Dorsey earlier this month. Harbaugh said the Iowa product “definitely is going to play. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll play. ... So we continue to prepare Geno to play.”
CB Khalil Dorsey
Undrafted out of Football Championship Subdivision program Northern Arizona, Dorsey has played in four straight games, working mostly on special teams. Harbaugh said Monday that he’s “very confident" in Dorsey, who joined the 53-man roster Oct. 9. "He’s playing well. He’s playing really well in practice, and he’s playing well on special teams.”
C Trystan Colon-Castillo
The undrafted rookie from Missouri is a prospect whom the Ravens “really like,” Harbaugh said last week. They signed him to their 53-man roster Oct. 12, though he was inactive Sunday.
ILB Kristian Welch
Welch missed a few weeks on the practice squad with an injury, but the undrafted Iowa product had a special teams tackle in his NFL debut Sunday. Harbaugh has called him a hard worker and fast learner, and Welch could be promoted for more games soon.
Nov. 1, 1 p.m.
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