The Ravens did a lot in their attempts to improve the wide receiving corps this offseason. What that usually means is that some receivers from last year’s roster will be fighting to remain on the team this summer. According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, one of James Proche or Tylan Wallace may find themselves on the outside looking in come September.
Proche and Wallace were drafted in back-to-back years following quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s 2019 MVP season. Both players were taken as flyers following more valuable attempts to add to the room as the Ravens tried to bolster Jackson’s weapons cache. In 2020, Proche joined Devin Duvernay as rookies out of the state of Texas. Duvernay, a third-round pick out of Texas, was expected to be a contributor who could add to the room very soon, while Proche, a sixth-round pick out of SMU, had a similar playing style and added an ability as a return man.
Wallace had a stronger chance to contribute as a fourth-rounder out of Oklahoma State the following year, but he was still not the team’s headliner rookie receiver that year. Wallace was picked three rounds after first-round pick Rashod Bateman, the clear choice of rookies expected to contribute right away.
The source of disappointment in Wallace is fairly apparent. Through two years in the NFL, Wallace has only six catches for 56 yards. He contributes on special teams, but that doesn’t help a ton when he misses eight games, as he did last season. Proche showed signs of life in a sophomore season with 16 catches for 202 yards, but he took a step back in 2022 with only eight catches for 62 yards. His return ability was rendered moot, as well, as Duvernay earned first-team All-Pro honors as a return man.
The offseason has seen the departures of pass catchers Demarcus Robinson, DeSean Jackson, and Sammy Watkins, all of whom outperformed Proche and Wallace last year, but the additions of Odell Beckham Jr., Nelson Agholor, and first-round pick Zay Flowers vastly outweigh what was lost in the room. With a top-five of Bateman, Beckham, Flowers, Duvernay, and Agholor, it’s hard to see where Proche and Wallace are both getting in the game. In a situation where the Ravens only hold on to six wide receivers, Proche and Wallace are likely going to be battling it out for that last roster spot in the preseason.
Here are a few more roster rumors coming out of Charm City:
- Baltimore added to the cornerbacks room this offseason with the additions of free agent Rock Ya-Sin and fifth-round pick Kyu Blu Kelly. While those acquisitions address the loss of starting cornerback Marcus Peters, the team may need to also address the slot. With Kyle Hamilton, who covered a bit of time in the slot last season with Chuck Clark and Marcus Williams starting at safety, moving back to his more natural position, who do the Ravens play in the slot? According to Zrebiec, second-year cornerback Damarion Williams is the favorite for the job, but Williams is reportedly dealing with some health issues right now. If Williams can’t go, Brandon Stephens, who has shown versatility while playing both safety and cornerback in his first two years, could get a chance to demonstrate his abilities. Former undrafted safety Ar’Darius Washington also reportedly has some “fans in the building” and could get an opportunity. Zrebiec doesn’t want to rule out starting cornerback Marlon Humphrey, though. Some around the team believe that putting one of the team’s best defenders closer to the ball and line of scrimmage could allow him to demonstrate his physicality and game-changing ability on more of a regular basis.
- With the addition of new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, some fans were concerned about the safety of fullback Patrick Ricard‘s roster spot. Ricard was used heavily in former play-caller Greg Roman‘s system, but does Monken’s new system allow for Ricard to extend his streak of four straight Pro Bowl selections? According to Zrebiec, Monken may have little say in the matter. General manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh both value Ricard highly as a player. They’ve used him as a blocker out of the backfield, a receiver lining up at fullback and tight end, a contributor on special teams, and even as a defensive lineman in his early years. Regardless of how Monken has utilized fullbacks in the past, it’s hard to see a scenario where the Ravens can’t find a role for Ricard to fill.