"I think that's all he needed was weapons," new Baltimore Ravens receiver Willie Snead said this week when asked about quarterback Joe Flacco.
Implicit in Snead's matter-of-fact statement was a dearth of weaponry the Ravens played with the past few seasons. Much of the offseason focus has surrounded Baltimore adding a trio of receivers in Michael Crabtree, Snead and John Brown. However, improving the tight end position was also a point of emphasis for general manager Ozzie Newsome.
The Ravens added a TE in the first and third rounds of the NFL draft. The No. 25 overall pick, Hayden Hurst, knows Baltimore expects him to step in and make an immediate contribution in a revamped offense.
"I understand, they want me to play early, but football is football," Hurst said Thursday, via the team's official website. "I have a lot of confidence in what I was able to do in college. I know the type of player that I am and I'm going to carry it over here. Once I learn the playbook and I can start playing it even faster, it's going to be exciting."
Tight end is a notoriously difficult position for a rookie to walk in and dominate. For pass-catching TEs, they must learn the route tree, plus their blocking assignments. It can be a lot for young players to digest.
Hurst might have a slight advantage over some of those former rookies. The tight end enters the NFL slated to turn 25 years old next month -- compare that to the likes of Todd Gurley, Amari Cooper, Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, who are all at least a year younger than Hurst, but entering their fourth NFL seasons. Hurst signed a minor-league baseball contract out of high school in 2012. After pursuing that endeavor, he didn't enroll at South Carolina until 2015. Hurst enters the NFL a more mature prospect than most.
"I know there's a lot of pressure on me being the first pick for the Ravens; it comes with the territory," Hurst said. "But everything I went through with baseball has definitely made me the player I am today. ... I just go out and do what I do and play football. I have a lot of confidence in who I am and the football player I am."
The Ravens' selection of Hurst and Mark Andrews in 2018 marks the third time in Newsome's tenure he's picked dual tight ends in the same draft -- Maxx Williams (second round) and Nick Boyle (fifth) in 2015; Ed Dickson (third) and Dennis Pitta (fourth) in 2010.
Historically, tight ends struggle out of the gate -- look no further than Maxx Williams' rookie season for evidence. If Hurst can pass Boyle and Williams up the depth chart during training camp, however, it would be a big boost for a Baltimore offense whose sum might be greater than its parts in 2018.