Last Man Out The Tunnel is a weekly spotlight on a member of the Ravens pushed to the forefront either due to a recent spectacular performance or an upcoming opportunity to step into the light. We will introduce you to the player, what they’ve done, why they are important now, and what we can expect in the future
Player: Pat Ricard
Position: Defensive End/Fullback
College: University of Maine
NFL Experience: 2 years
How Did They Join the Ravens?: UDFA 2017
Career Highlights: For the Maine Black Bears, Ricard was twice named First-Team All-CAA (2015 and 2016), and was Third-Team All-American in 2016. He spent his first two years as a Defensive End, but saw more success with an added 30 pounds and a shift to Nose Tackle. In his career, he totaled 208 tackles, 47.5 TFL, 18 sacks, 3 fumbles, and 2 blocked kicks. The 30th ranked Defensive Tackle in the 2017 class (NFLDraftScout.com), Ricard posted a 5.03s 40 yard dash and 33 reps on the bench press at Maine’s Pro Day. He was not at the 2017 NFL Combine. Ricard joined the Ravens after going undrafted.
With the Ravens, Ricard was put in an interesting position when he was asked to practice with the offense as a Running Back, in addition to practicing as a Defensive End. Ricard was a Fullback in High School, which the Ravens only found out after signing him as a UDFA. The Ravens had just lost a Pro Bowl Fullback in Kyle Juszczyk, and only had one traditional fullback on their training camp roster (Ricky Ortiz). Despite only recording 5 tackles in the preseason with no touches on the offensive side of the ball, Ricard was named to the 2017 Ravens roster, slotting in as a backup Defensive End and the lead fullback for power running plays.
In his rookie season, Ricard only recorded 5 tackles (2 TFL), but he caught 4 passes, 2 of which were Touchdowns. In his sophomore season, Ricard recorded 4 tackles (1 TFL, and also notched his first QB hit), but did not record any touches on offense. In his 2 years with the Ravens, Ricard has been on the offense for 245 snaps, on the defense for 85 snaps, and on Special Teams for 139 snaps.
Why The Spotlight?: Entering his 3rd year, Ricard finds himself in interesting positions on both sides of the ball. On the offense, where he has found himself used more heavily, the Ravens are building a much more run oriented system to complement new starting QB Lamar Jackson. As such, Ricard remains the top fullback the Ravens employ (They do have an International player in Chris Ezeala who is in his 2nd offseason with the Ravens, but he is a longshot to stick in the NFL still). While Tight End Nick Boyle, known for his superb blocking ability, could potentially play an H-Back role like a Fullback, new Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman would likely prefer to have multiple blocking options on the field, this necessitating the need for a Fullback outside of Boyle.
On the defensive side, the Ravens are looking for a Defensive Lineman to step up next to Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce. Brent Urban, last year’s top snap recipient on the Defensive Line, signed with the Titans in the offseason. While Chris Wormley is expected to take on a much larger role this year, the Ravens are looking for a lineman to generate some pass rush and collapse the pocket. Through two games in the 2019 preseason, Ricard has 2 sacks and 1 fumble recovery (On Thursday, Packers QB Nick Boyle failed to complete a handoff cleanly to his running back when Ricard broke up the play and then fell on the loose ball. Ricard did not get credit for a forced fumble, as the handoff was never completed). Despite his snaps primarily coming on the offensive side in his young career, Ricard’s currently aggressiveness on the Defensive Line could line him up with a top rotational spot along with Wormley next to big DTs like Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce.
PRS Outlook: Ricard’s versatility and tough nature has made a name for him among even casual fans. He is all but a lock to make the 53 man roster again and gives the Ravens tremendous flexibility by occupying two roles in a single roster spot. In 2019, Ricard hopes to begin emerging as more of a playmaker to start earning his next contract, instead of remaining a background depth player. While he still has an uphill battle on the defensive side of the ball, his role as a blocker on the offensive side could be his best odds at a longer term role. While fullbacks have gradually fallen out of favor in the NFL, Nick Boyle just got a quite handsome deal primarily for his blocking abilities as a Tight End. While the Ravens may not be the team to give Ricard a deal for his blocking alone, excelling a blocker (in addition to his tough plays on the defensive line) could give Ricard some breakout credit in 2019.