The tight end position for the Baltimore Ravens has been a strength for the team. Whether it was Shannon Sharpe, Todd Heap, or Dennis Pita, some of the best Ravens teams have featured the position. Mark Andrews is the latest in that lineage.
Andrews has been the focal part of the passing game over the last couple of seasons. But don’t forget about the young tight ends behind him. Second-year tight ends Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar are gearing up for a more impactful season in 2023.
“‘Charlie’ and ‘Zay,’ they’re coming along. It’s another year as a pro. [It’s] another year with their schedule, recognizing coverage,” Ravens tight ends coach George Godsey said. “I think our defense is doing a great job of showing us unique looks. Every day, there’s a goal to get a little bit better, and that’s what their role is right now, you know, as second-year players.”
Godsey said both players have sharpened their recognition of certain looks that defense presents whether it be zone or man coverage. They’re also getting better being more consistent with the depth of their routes.
Likely was a fourth-round pick last season. He finished with 36 receptions for 373 yards and three touchdowns. Likely is 6-foot-4, 245 pounds which gives him a sizable advantage against safeties and linebackers. His best game was in Week 18 when he had eight receptions for 103 receiving yards in the 27–16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Last season Likely weighed in at 240 pounds. He said he put on five more pounds of muscle this offseason. Likely is looking to make strides as a blocker as well as catching the ball.
The biggest thing Likely is doing is simply taking things one day at a time. He’s learning a new scheme with new Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken coming to Baltimore so it will take patience.
Another thing Likely is doing, is working on the little things that pile into more significant ones.
“I really just watched film on the little details and on the major details,” Likely said. “[I] just really watched major games where I felt like I didn’t play my best to help the team win. And then, [I] just stacked those days every day in the offseason and just really prepared and then just find my comfortability out here in OTAs and training camp so far.”
Kolar was also selected in the fourth round last season. Unlike Likely, he didn’t get to see the field as much as a rookie due to injury. Kolar was placed on injured reserve on August 31, 2022. He was activated on November 8 (2022) and only had four receptions for 49 yards.
Kolar came into the NFL at 6-foot-6, 252 pounds. He’s now weighing in at 265 pounds. That’ll surely help him be a good blocker in the run game.
“You want to be like the most complete tight end possible,” Kolar said. “There’s more reps in the blocking world, so if I can keep getting better and [more] effective with that, I think there’s a lot of opportunity there.”
Kolar has a long frame that allows him to be a viable threat in the red zone. It’s going to take time to get involved in the passing game. But once it happens, he can be an effective part of the passing game.
Monken’s offense features tight ends Darnell Washington and Brock Bowers at Georgia. Washington is now a tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Bowers will be a first round pick next season. Even though it was in college, they showed a good example of how the tight end can dominate in Monken’s offense.
“They’ll show some film. [Georgia] had two great tight ends last year. They had [Darnell] Washington and [Brock] Bowers,” Kolar said. “Yes, he’ll show some clips in the [offense] install stuff. They had a ton of yards. They had really interesting stuff with the screen game. They had a good vertical passing attack. It was definitely interesting. I mostly just pick up stuff that he puts in the playbook. I didn’t watch many games.”
Now it’s time for the Ravens tight ends to make their mark in the new offense.