Hayden Hurst and Lamar Jackson

© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Rookies Set To Have Big Roles

August 20, 2018 - 6:54 pm

By Tim Barbalace

There was plenty of hype surrounding the Ravens' 2018 Draft Class and so far some rookies are performing well enough for extended playtime this fall.  There are three first year players that are in competition to start in the season opener against the Buffalo Bills.  Hayden Hurst, Orlando Brown Jr. and Kenny Young continue to impress during practice and preseason games.  

Hayden Hurst missed multiple practices early on in camp, but has made up for lost time.  He has caught four passes for 26 yards and a touchdown in two games.  Hurst ran with the first team offense this past week and is in competition with Nick Boyle for the starting spot at tight end.

Orlando Brown Jr. came to the Ravens after watching his draft stock tumble.  Brown was a projected first round pick prior to his terrible performance at the scouting combine and ended up lasting until the third round.  He has performed well in his first two games surrendering one QB pressure per Pro Football Focus and is in competition with James Hurst for the right tackle spot.

The most wide open competition resides at inside linebacker.  Patrick Onwuasar is the incumbent starter, but Kenny Young is gunning for the job and has taken reps with the starters.  Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale said things are still up in the air in regards to who will start.

“I still think it’s an even competition,” Martindale said. “It doesn’t bother me who starts between the two of them and rotate them back-and-forth. You’re going to have a really good linebacker in that situation and somebody will eventually take that job over, and you’ll see it.” 

Criticism has came the team's way in recent years because of misses in the draft.  Baltimore has had only two Opening Day Rookie starters since 2014 (CJ Mosley in '14 and Ronnie Stanley in '16).  In comparison, this season could begin with three rookies having a starting spot Week 1.  The Ravens will also have contributions from others in their rookie draft class.  

John Harbaugh has stated multiple times that Lamar Jackson will be on the active gameday roster and will be utilized in different packages.  Mark Andrews has reportedly performed well since returning to practice and could be a nice receiving option.  Anthony Averrett, Deshon Elliott and Zach Sieler have also flashed during the preseason.

Lamar Jackson was the headliner of the Ravens' most recent draft, but some fellow rookies are in line for bigger roles than him in 2018.  Ozzie Newsome's last draft could be a strong one.