NFL players often make a big jump from Year One to Year Two in the NFL. It makes sense, as these players, no longer rookies, are used to the routine, the speed, and the regimen of NFL life. Of course, it doesn't always happen -- Matt Elam and Arthur Brown both appeared to regress in their second year in the league.
Still, the Ravens this season will have a slew of players who will be counted on to make that jump. In fact, the success of the Ravens season could depend on it. Here are three such players:
TE Crockett Gillmore
True, the Ravens drafted tight end Maxx Williams in the second round, and Williams might be viewed as the long-term starter. But Gillmore will be called upon to play a large role in Marc Trestman's offense with Owen Daniels gone to Denver and Dennis Pitta's future still very much unknown. Gillmore was used mainly as a blocking tight end last season, but showed nice hands during OTA workouts, and Joe Flacco appeared to grow increasingly comfortable throwing to him. Gillmore made 10 catches for 121 yards and one touchdown in the regular season last year, and had two catches for 30 yards and a score in the playoffs. He should easily top those numbers this season.
DL Timmy Jernigan
Someone has to fill the huge void left by the trade of Haloti Ngata, and all indications are it will be Jernigan, who was dubbed the Ravens' "secret superstar" for 2015 by Pro Football Focus. The Ravens already got a sneak preview at the end of last season, when Jernigan filled in while Ngata served a four-game suspension. Jernigan finished with 23 tackles and four sacks as a rookie. "I definitely feel comfortable picking up where I left off at last year," Jernigan said after an OTA session earlier this month. "I feel really good. Everything is starting to seem kind of second nature to me. The biggest thing now is just to keep it going and building on top of what I did last year."
DE Brent Urban
At 6-7 and 295 pounds, it's easy to see why Urban could be a major factor for the Ravens this year. After missing all of his rookie season with an ACL injury sustained early in training camp, Urban, a fourth-round pick out of Virginia, is back and appears fully recovered. With veteran Chris Canty sitting out OTA workouts, Urban took a lot of reps with the first unit. Granted, he wasn't facing the No. 1 offensive line, but Urban's size, burst and wingspan were disruptive. Canty is back for his 11th season, but don't be surprised if Urban plays an increasingly large role at defensive end.