The Baltimore Ravens have a few players that need to start holding up their end of the bargain. Two players in particular are Jaylon Ferguson and Miles Boykin. Which one steps up in 2021?
The Case for Ferguson
The Baltimore Ravens have seen that with outside linebackers, it often takes a while before the lights fully come on. Za’Darius Smith is a great example of this. Raw edge rushers have to develop at the NFL level. It’s not instant ramen soup at this position; you actually have to do the work and boil the water.
Ferguson is 6-5 and has traits that got him his shot with the Ravens. At Louisiana Tech he earned the nickname of “Sack Daddy.” In fact, he was the NCAA sack leader when he jumped into the NFL.
In the NFL, Ferguson couldn’t bully his way to the quarterback. He was no longer the big, bad wolf. He went from Superman under a yellow sun to Superman with a red sun. Ferguson was no longer the best athlete on the field, his big advantage was taken away.
Ferguson has a shot out of pure opportunity. The Ravens still haven’t added a veteran pass rusher. If the Baltimore Ravens don’t bring in Justin Houston or Melvin Ingram, Ferguson should be able to carve out playing time if he earns it.
Odafe Oweh is a rookie who has to compete in a 17 game regular season. When you’re used to playing 13 or 14 games a year, that’s going to take some getting used to.
Tyus Bowser can’t play every down on the field. Pernell McPhee is probably on a snap count. If the Ravens add the veteran pass rusher it would put Ferguson on the roster bubble. Without a move in free agency, Ferguson should be part of the rotation.
There’s a lot of buzz about Ferguson right now. If the light comes on and his pass rush moves feature an improved menu, that buzz could come into fruition. Ferguson has to prove it, but it’s possible. At the bare minimum, he has to stay ahead of Daelin Hayes, a fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame.
The Case For Miles Boykin
Miles Boykin has size that didn’t go away just because he was an unproductive wide receiver. Boykin is only entering his third season in the NFL. Being a 6-4 wide receiver with decent speed isn’t going to go out of style in the league.
Boykin is going to get a chance to put it all together. Remember, even Breshad Perriman got another couple of shots after his forgettable time with the Ravens. As long as you show some flashes and have the things that you can’t coach you have a little bit of staying power. Boykin wasn’t a first round pick, so the Ravens may be willing to work with him a little bit more.
Boykin has had some nice moments with the Ravens. In the Seattle Seahawks game in 2019, Lamar Jackson found him for a deep shot on the first drive. He had a nice touchdown grab against the Dallas Cowboys this past season, and he’s found the end zone seven times in his career.
Boykin hasn’t exactly been in a high-flying passing offense. The Ravens had the fewest passing yards in the NFL in the 2020 season. Boykin may have only gotten 32 receptions over the past two seasons, but it’s not like there was a surplus of receptions to go around. Boykin’s career average gain per reception is 14.5 yards.
Boykin hasn’t been overly impressive, but he hasn’t been egregiously bad either. You can argue that Boykin needs to do more with his chances, yet you can’t say he’s been in an ideal spot as a receiver. The Ravens adding Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, and Tylan Wallace this offseason didn’t help his chances.
The Bottom Line for the Baltimore Ravens
It’s too early to write either player off. This is the time of year where everybody seemingly gets the coaching staff excited. That’s why it’s important to remember that no matter what you hear, these two players have to make it happen quickly.
NEXT POST: What’s changed when Lamar Jackson drops back to pass
The one thing that is for sure is that the Ravens aren’t going to hopelessly wait for it. The Ravens added three wide receivers to the roster this offseason. They drafted two players for the edge positions. This is a make or break year for both players.
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