It is hard for me to even stomach or write this piece, but the Baltimore Ravens have no other choice but to look to Dallas Clark as their top option at the tight end position.
No. 87 caught seven passes for 87 yards in the team’s Week 1 49-27 loss to the Denver Broncos, despite having a few key drops that may have turned the tides for the offense.
The 34-year-old lead the Ravens in targets with 12 and has shown that despite his lack of athleticism and apparent rust beginning to wear off from an offseason of inactivity, Clark still has the ability to get open in the short and intermediate passing game.
The former Iowa Hawkeye is a shadow of who he used to be and his ability to stretch the field in the seams appears diminished. However, what he brings to the Ravens is something that Ed Dickson can’t provide at the tight end position: a viable option out of the slot who can be another safety valve for quarterback Joe Flacco in addition to running back Ray Rice.
Clark offers virtually nothing as far as run blocking goes and Dickson is the far superior athlete. However, Dickson couldn’t catch a cold last week; just one catch for 13 yards and four drops out of five targets.
I’m not validating Clark as a long-term solution at tight end for the Ravens, nor do I think they should re-sign him this offseason when Dennis Pitta‘s contract is up and he returns from his season-ending dislocated hip injury. I still suspect that Clark is in training camp mode. Keep in mind, this is a guy who spent the entire offseason playing with his kids and spending time with his family back in Iowa. There are no football drills, no OTA’s and no offseason strength and conditioning program.
Clark joined the Ravens roughly a month ago, so don’t right off his abilities as a player in this offense just yet. He will not be a star like he was as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, but he has the potential to become more than just a guy in Baltimore.