Thursday, April 3, 2014
Why Daniels is such a key move for Ravens
By Jamison Hensley
The Baltimore Ravens don't expect Owen Daniels to be their No. 1 tight end. They don't project him to put up Pro Bowl numbers or relive past glory in Gary Kubiak's offense.
So, why is a one-year deal with Daniels such a significant move for the Ravens?. Essentially, Daniels will be what Steve Smith is to Torrey Smith. Daniels is an excellent compliment to Dennis Pitta and provides a clutch secondary option behind a young player hitting his prime. His history says you can count on him for 50 catches, timely third-down conversions and yards after the catch.
This is a win for quarterback Joe Flacco, whose tight ends last year were an aging Dallas Clark and an undependable Ed Dickson. This is a critical addition for new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and it goes beyond his ties with Daniels.
Kubiak likes using two tight ends, and he can now go with that as his base offense. Lining up Pitta and Daniels, the Ravens can be just as dangerous as any team using four wide receivers because of their tight ends' pass catching ability.
This isn't to suggest that they will become Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. This is, however, the Ravens' version of that. At 31, Daniels has been on the decline but he has at least 54 receptions in his past five healthy seasons.
Daniels runs great routes, can catch most passes thrown his way and has proved to be a functional blocker. Unlike anyone else on the Ravens' offense, Daniels won't have a transition period. He played seven seasons in Houston under Kubiak when he was the Texans head coach.
Why Daniels was still on the free-agent market is because of last season. He played only five games because of a fractured fibula. Daniels went unsigned after visits with the Ravens, Packers, and Redskins.
It wasn't too long ago when Daniels was one of the most productive tight ends in the league. In 2011 and 2012, Daniels ranked eighth in receptions (1,393), fifth on third-down conversions (27) and sixth in yards after the catch (623).
There was no one available who could have made a more immediate impact than Daniels. The Ravens could've re-signed Dickson, but Flacco had no confidence in him last season. They could've drafted a tight end, although it was unlikely that the No. 1 prospect Eric Ebron was going to fall to the Ravens at No. 17.
Daniels was the Ravens' sure bet at tight end, and he gives the Ravens the best one-two punch at tight end in their history.