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Isaiah Likely Ravens

Isaiah Likely Poised To Make Rookie Impact For Ravens

  • Justin Melo
  • August 12, 2022
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Baltimore Ravens rookie tight end Isaiah Likely made an impressive debut against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday. The No. 139 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Likely recorded four receptions for 44 yards while routinely flashing the pass-catching abilities that made him such an intriguing prospect coming out of Coastal Carolina. Likely’s path to becoming a first-year contributor for the Ravens is becoming clearer by the day.

Likely’s highlight of the night was undeniably this 22-yard chain-moving reception. Titans rookie linebacker Chance Campbell had excellent coverage on the play, but Likely climbed the ladder and mossed Campbell. Campbell played good defense, but Likely played better offense. It was the perfect peek into what Likely is capable of providing the Ravens’ offense with this season.

Likely is a difference-maker in the passing game. His ability to create separation up the seam and provide his quarterback with a secure target adds an additional layer to Baltimore’s offense. Likely’s large catch radius (10-inch hands) and strong hands were on full display on that reception. Likely is also a run-after-catch threat.

Ravens starting quarterback Lamar Jackson will appreciate Likely’s ability to create for himself pre-and-post-catch.

Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman is expected to revert back to his run-heavy ways that feature jumbo tight end sets in 2022. The Ravens averaged 145.8 rushing yards per contest last season, which was notably lower than the league-leading 191.9 yards they averaged in 2020. A return to health for Jackson and J.K. Dobbins should make the Ravens comfortable to get back to doing what they do best.

A seismic shift back to their roots is precisely why Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta drafted not one, but two tight ends in the 2022 NFL Draft (Likely and Charlie Kolar). Veteran Nick Boyle also remains in the mix. Likely, Kolar, and Boyle will take turns accompanying superstar Mark Andrews in two-tight-end sets. Boyle and Kolar possess different skill sets from Likely altogether. Boyle and Kolar’s fine-tuned ability to serve as in-line blockers fits Baltimore’s culture, but Likely will be crucial to maintaining balance while keeping opposing defenses on their toes. It should help Likely create a specialized role for himself because neither Boyle nor Kolar can do what he can.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has already acknowledged Likely’s vast involvement in Baltimore’s offense.

“He’s [Likely] going to be a big part of our offense this year,” Harbaugh recently said.

Harbaugh made that statement one day (Aug. 10) before the Ravens took the field against the Titans for their preseason opener. Nothing Harbaugh saw from Likely on Thursday will change his opinion. It was largely encouraging. The situation is trending towards Likely playing a significant role in Baltimore’s offense.

It’s worth acknowledging Likely’s debut wasn’t perfect. Likely was called for two notable holding penalties. Color commentator and former NFL legend Rod Woodson noted during the telecast that Likely got his hands on the outside shoulder of the Titans player, which will consistently prompt NFL referees to flag him for a hold. Likely was a raw blocker at Coastal Carolina as well. Likely must continue working on his technique as a blocker, but there’s enough willingness and effort to indicate improvement will be achieved.

Likely flashed so many invigorating signs throughout his live-action debut against the Titans on Thursday. When utilized correctly, Likely adds a new wrinkle to the Ravens’ offense. If Thursday’s performance was a peek into the future, Likely appears poised to produce right away.

Written By

Justin Melo