Mark Andrews only needed one week to justify why Lamar Jackson and the Ravens invested in him as their starting tight end.
With injuries and ineffectiveness affecting some of the league’s top tight ends, Andrews could definitely join the elite tier at that position this fall.
Mark Andrews had a strong 2019 season
Baltimore successfully used tight ends like Dennis Pitta and Todd Heap during some of the most successful seasons in franchise history.
When the Ravens had a chance to draft Mark Andrews, a unanimous All-American at Oklahoma and the reigning John Mackey Award winner, Baltimore understandably added him in the 2018 NFL draft.
Andrews caught 34 passes for 552 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie. He caught another three passes for 31 yards in the Ravens’ AFC wild-card game loss to the Chargers in January 2019.
Splitting reps with Hayden Hurst last year, Andrews earned a Pro Bowl spot when he turned 64 catches into 852 yards and 10 touchdowns in 15 games.
Baltimore traded Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons in the offseason, paving the way for Andrews as the starter.
Mark Andrews showed no rust in Week 1
Mark Andrews showed he didn’t need the preseason to make a significant impact in Week 1.
Andrews caught five passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-6 rout of Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns.
All five of Andrews’ catches either resulted in a traditional first down or a touchdown; official scorers count touchdowns as first downs.
Andrews’ five catches tied for fifth among tight ends. Philadelphia’s Dallas Goedert, who finished the Eagles’ loss to Washington with eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, led tight ends in receptions.
Andrews was the only tight end with two receiving touchdowns in Week 1. The third-year tight end also joined a list of only seven players who caught two touchdowns in the season’s first week.
Andrews can end this year as a top-3 tight end
Many expected Mark Andrews to become a top-5 tight end in 2020 if he wasn’t already there.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson went a step further during his postgame press conference on Sept. 13.
“Man, that guy’s Top 2, and he’s not 2,” Jackson told reporters, according to the Ravens’ official website.
The football world seems to universally agree that Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and San Francisco’s George Kittle are the NFL’s best active tight ends. The order of who is better is subject to debate.
Andrews still has a lot of work to do if he wants to join that conversation. But for this season alone, Andrews’ chances of earning All-Pro honors received a major boost after Week 1.
Not only did Jackson show he won’t hesitate in throwing to Andrews, but George Kittle suffered a knee injury that could keep him out in Week 2. If the ailment lingers, Kittle won’t finish with the same all-world numbers that he has in recent years.
In a recent media session, Andrews embraced the higher expectations he has in his third season.
“In the back of my head, I knew that my role was going to grow. Third year being a tight end, it kind of naturally happens that way. My body feels great. I felt great out there conditioning wise. I’m ready for it. I’m ready for the task. The more the better for me.”
Andrews and the Ravens travel to Houston for a Week 2 matchup with Deshaun Watson and the Texans. Andrews caught four passes for 75 yards and a touchdown in a 41-7 victory over the Texans on Nov. 17, 2019.