Back in 2015, the Baltimore Ravens attempted to revamp their tight end group. The team used a second-round pick on Maxx Williams and a fifth-round pick on Nick Boyle. Three years later, the Ravens found themselves taking two more tight ends in Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.
Boyle still managed to carve out enough of a role in the Ravens' offense to warrant getting a contract extension. Baltimore signed Boyle to a three-year deal worth $18 million. Although he only caught 23 passes and failed to score a touchdown last season, Boyle is a valuable player to head coach John Harbaugh.
"I think Nick is a huge piece of our offense going forward. The tone he sets, the type of player he is— I'd say he's the best blocking in the league. He sets the edge, he sets the tempo," Harbaugh said.
Boyle's blocking was critical when the Ravens shifted to a run-heavy offense with Lamar Jackson under center. At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, Boyle is able to make crushing blocks that spring ball carriers for big gains. Boyle's role will increase with new offensive coordinator Greg Roman reconfigured offense in 2019.
His physical play is something the team feeds off. Watch how his teammates react when he pancakes a defender. For Boyle, it's a pleasure to be called upon to do the dirty work.
"I have a lot of pride in what I do whether it's catching a pass or making a key block on a certain play. I get the same satisfaction out of it," Boyle explained.
Teams that prepare for the Ravens see how he makes blocks in space and how he is able to take on defensive lineman at the line of scrimmage. His physical play sends the message that facing the Ravens is going to be a dogfight. Baltimore is a tough, gritty city so fans appreciate the rugged style of football from their team.
The Ravens knew Boyle would be a perfect match for Baltimore when they evaluated him before the 2015 NFL Draft. Harbaugh said what Boyle brings to the team in terms of what it means to be a Raven and play like a Raven is something he's impressed with.
"That's something we saw at Delaware in his college tape. We felt like he fit us perfectly. He's our kind of player. He's what Baltimore fans appreciate and love about their football team," Harbaugh added.
He also pointed to Boyle's work ethic in the weight room. Boyle's impact goes beyond his performance on the field. Now Boyle at 26 years old will be the elder statesman of the tight end group.
Other teams know he brings value beyond statistics. That's why there were going to be plenty of teams lining up to retain Boyle's services on the free agent market. In the end, Boyle knew where he wanted to be.
"I didn't want to be in any other place," Boyle said. "I wanted to come back right away. I didn't want to go to another team. We love it here and love the relationships we have."