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NFL Draft

Marquise Brown Progressing Into Key Cog Of Ravens Offense

  • The Draft Network
  • October 5, 2021
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A first-round selection out of the University of Oklahoma just over two years ago, Marquise Brown’s start to his career was one of mystery. An offense predicated on its ability to run the football, Brown found himself on an island at times with Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram toting the offensive workload in his first season. And while 584 receiving yards via 11 starts in his first campaign was nothing to scoff at, Brown’s progression has come in waves, presenting an entirely new pass-catching weapon for Jackson and Baltimore’s diverse offensive attack.

Week 4 offered the latest display from Brown, as he torched a stout Denver Broncos secondary for 91 yards and a touchdown, including a 49-yard hookup with Jackson to put the Ravens up before half.

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Brown’s performance Sunday was one of reconciliation. Just seven days removed from three dropped first-half touchdowns in Detroit, Brown has seemingly recaptured his game, and what better spot to do so? A wideout built in the DeSean Jackson mold—wiry, quick-twitched, with the innate ability to take the lid off a defense—skepticism has swallowed Brown early in his career. Representing one of the two aerial threats in prior years alongside tight end Mark Andrews, Brown’s deployment schematically in the pass game found himself bracketed and doubled from the onset of his NFL tenure. An NFL-leading run-first offense mastheaded by Jackson’s MVP season of 2019, the Ravens by no means were a static one-dimensional unit, but Brown’s skill set was underutilized and his role was put into question.

Fast forward a full season, and four games into 2021, Brown has looked, for now, to be everything the Ravens hoped for when they used their No. 25 overall selection on the former JUCO turned Power-5 weapon. While Jackson undoubtedly remains the league’s most dynamic ball-carrier and Andrews continues to serve as the target hog in the Ravens offense, Brown’s progression into WR1 has opened up Pandora’s box for offensive coordinator Greg Roman. He, alongside Sammy Watkins, has provided an excellent boundary duo for Jackson to use at his disposal following the litany of injuries Baltimore has suffered in their backfield. 

Season-ending setbacks to J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, and Gus Edwards left Baltimore with a barren running back pool to pull from prior to the start of the campaign, and for many, the scope of success looked worrisome. While veteran pickups in Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell have each had a crack at toting the football, an offense once hinged upon its overall capability to run the football has diversified, leading the Ravens to a 3-1 record early in 2021 that can be highly attributed to its progression and willingness through the air.

With 28 targets and 326 yards through four weeks, Brown is on track to shatter his career highs in all major categories. Add in his three touchdowns, including a career-high total in yards per reception thus far (17.2), and Brown has all the makings of an illustrious campaign working in tandem with Jackson. While 2021 first-rounder Rashod Bateman and day-three pass-catcher Tylan Wallace have yet to make an impact, it’s hard to ignore the moves by general manager Eric DeCosta that could be attributed to Brown’s early success in 2021. A short-lived league for many where recent production trumps all, the selections of Bateman and Wallace surely will prove to provide two more sets of hands to compete, but like anything, competition breeds success and Brown is tired of his rearview mirror being occupied.

A career timeline initially muddied as his game remained tied to a limited route tree, the dynamic skill set of the aptly nicknamed pass-catcher has quickly hit the spotlight in a crucial campaign for the 24-year-old receiver. Time will tell if he’s able to continue his progress, but if Baltimore eyes a return to the postseason, the production of Brown, an enticing combo of speed and play-making prowess, could hold the key to the Ravens’ continued diversification on offense.

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