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5 things to know about new Ravens wide receiver James Proche

5 things to know about new Ravens wide receiver James Proche

The Ravens continued to capitalize on the deep pool of wide receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft. Even hours into day three of the draft, highly productive pass-catchers remained on the board. 

A day after selecting Texas receiver Devin Duvernay in the third round, Baltimore traded up in the sixth round to take James Proche out of SMU with the 201st overall pick.

Proche represents another weapon at Lamar Jackson's disposal in the passing game, and the newest member of the young quarterback's flock of receivers has proved he's capable in the slot and outside the numbers. 

Here are five things to know about Proche:

1. He's a versatile option in multiple phases

Not only can Proche work the slot and outside receiver positions, but he can also be a valuable contributor on special teams. Carving out a role on special teams is a crucial attribute for late-round selections, especially under head coach John Harbaugh with his background as a special teams coordinator. 

Proche returned kicks and punts during his four-year SMU career. While he never scored a touchdown in the return game, his 9.6 yard average per punt return as a senior ranked in the top five in the nation in 2019.  

2. He rewrote the SMU record book

SMU has had a nice run of receivers this decade. Emmanuel Sanders, Aldrick Robinson, Trey Quinn and Courtland Sutton were all drafted this decade, and Cole Beasley has put together a great career for an undrafted free agent. 

Still, Proche ranks among all of those professional receivers in the SMU record book. Proche set school records in career receiving touchdowns (39), receiving yards (3,949), receptions (301), all-purpose yards (4,996), receiving touchdowns in a season (15) and consecutive games with a receiving touchdown (12).

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3. Proche was one of the nation's most-productive receivers

Proche didn't receive the recognition that some of the 29 receivers selected in front of him did, but that wasn't for a lack of production. The Dallas native was tied with first-round pick Justin Jefferson for the most catches in the nation with 111 in 2019.

In addition to the high volume of catches, Proche ranked fourth in touchdown catches and 13th in receiving yards among all Division I receivers during his senior campaign. 

4. Strong hands, strong frame

During his college career, Proche was always a dependable target for SMU quarterbacks. Across his four-year career, Proche dropped just nine total passes, according to Pro Football Focus. 

The 5-foot-11 receiver also possesses surprising strength for what's considered a slightly undersized receiver. At the NFL Combine in February, he recorded 20 reps of 225 pounds during the bench press, which was the fourth-best mark among receivers. 

5. He overcame acute kidney failure in high school

Before his senior season at DeSoto High School, Proche was diagnosed with acute kidney failure after practice. Proche spent two days in the intensive care unit before making a full recovery and eventually returning to the field for his last season of high school football. 

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Ravens DT Brandon Williams doesn't see how opposing offenses can attack their defense

Ravens DT Brandon Williams doesn't see how opposing offenses can attack their defense

Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams looks a bit different entering the 2020 season. He’s also got some teammates that look different, too. 

The Ravens added defensive tackles Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe to the front line, meaning Williams will kick inside to nosetackle this season. He’s changed his body composition as a result, and has shaved off some fat and added more muscle.

“I’ve got to eat the greens, eat the vegetables, the broccoli and whatnot,” Williams said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters. “But, then just working on my body composition, just working on being more — not lighter — but more toned so I can play that nose and keep running the way I do. Those two additions, Wolfe and Calais, I’ve got the twin towers right next to me — those two giants. I don’t see how offenses can come at us, man.”

In order to slim down a little bit the 31-year-old ate with a more watchful eye, as he knew his body would respond accordingly during the season.

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“I’m trying to get my slim-sexy going on — you know what I’m saying?” Williams quipped. “You know, the older you get, the harder it is to get that weight off you, the harder it is to move. You have to think about the joints and all the double-teams you’re taking up and all that stuff. So, when you come in a little bit lighter, it just relieves all that pain a lot of that — I guess — nagging stuff you have to worry about early on.”

Williams had 34 tackles last season and one sack, but is hopeful his move back to the nosetackle spot after the additions of Campbell, Wolfe and draft choices Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington will create a defensive line capable of wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. 

“Those two dudes are good, and I like what I’ve got,” Williams said. “I like my team. I like the way they look, and the new guys are coming up great. We’ve got a lot of things going for us on the D-line and I’m excited to see it.”

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A very good day for NFL tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce

A very good day for NFL tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce

It’s been a good day for tight ends in the NFL.

To start the day George Kittle became the highest-paid tight end in the league. Shortly after, Travis Kelce signed an extension keeping him in Kansas City for an additional four years. Now it’s hard to talk about NFL tight ends and not mention either Kittle or Kelce’s name as two of the best in the league. It was only fitting that the two get paid on the exact same day.  

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Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers reached an agreement on a five-year, $75 million contract extension. Kittle deserves every penny of that deal as he’s racked up 2,945 receiving yards, the most by any tight end in NFL history after three seasons. He’s a do-it-all tight end who has great hands, blocks like a guard, and is a huge asset to the locker room.  

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs and Travis Kelce agreed to a four-year, $57.25 million extension. Kelce is a huge part of the Chiefs offense and his stats show that he’s one of the best in the league. He’s the only tight end to ever record four straight 1,000 yard seasons and he’s the fastest tight end ever to 425 career catches and 5,500 receiving yards.  

Kittle and Kelce have set the bar high with their play on the field, but they have now also set the bar for the price tag at their position that comes along with it. 

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