Ravens ‘Exploring’ New Role for Impressive Rookie

John Harbaugh

Getty John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens are "exploring" a new role for an impressive rookie.

Few teams in the NFL are as loaded at tight end as the Baltimore Ravens, but that hasn’t stopped them from “exploring” a new role for undrafted rookie wide receiver Qadir Ismail.

He worked some with TEs on the final day of mandatory minicamp, Thursday, June 13, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Zrebiec noted how head coach John Harbaugh “said Ravens are just exploring some things but he’s been very impressed with Ismail who made some plays this week.”

It’s an interesting step in the first-year free agent’s development. Proving himself as an asset at multiple positions is how a player like Ismail makes a final roster.

The problem is he’s now trying to make his mark at a spot where the Ravens are talent rich with a trio of capable playmakers.

Qadir Ismail an Intriguing Fit for New Role

Ismail arrived as one of the more notable names among the Ravens’ pool of undrafted free agents. He’s the son of former NFL receiver Qadry Ismail, who won a Super Bowl with the 2000 Ravens and posted a pair of 1,000-yard seasons.

Ismail may not make the grade as a wideout at the pro level, but he’s an intriguing fit to switch to tight end. Mostly because of a 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame that makes the ex-Samford ace a potential size and speed mismatch from the inside.

Even packing on muscle would unlikely be enough to make Ismail an asset as a blocking tight end. Where he’d make more of an impact is as a “move” TE able to flex into the slot between the 20s and split outside nearer the goal-line.

Of course, those possibilities are only viable if Ismail masters a different position. Fortunately, the early signs are positive, with Harbaugh telling reporters, “He’s really looked good. I mean, he’s had a nice camp.”

A good first impression could be vital for Ismail’s chances of sticking around. Particularly if he’s going to be part of the mix at arguably the strongest position on the Ravens’ offense.

Ravens Loaded at Tight End

Baltimore’s strength in depth at tight end begins with All-Pro Mark Andrews, still the go-to target for NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, when healthy. Andrews has been consistent during offseason work, but he’ll know Isaiah Likely is primed for more exposure.

A dynamic athlete with the kind of roving skills Ismail will hope to emulate, Likely could enjoy a breakout third season. If Likely is the blueprint for Ismail, Charlie Kolar can follow Andrews’ lead.

The fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft has started just three games in two years, but Kolar has the raw tools to be a physical force. He showcased his potential with a “very active” performance during the final day of camp, per Ravens.com Editorial Director Ryan Mink, who reported the 6-foot-6, 257-pounder “made a bunch of catches, earning praise from Todd Monken after a long one down the seam.”

Kolar becoming more of a factor will make it tougher for Ismail to earn reps. Yet, competition among so many gifted pass-catchers can only be a good thing for Jackson and an offense still light at wide receiver.

Ismail may have helped at the latter spot, but the Ravens are at least showing their willingness to fully explore all the ways the rookie can still make an impact.

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