Ravens' Crockett Gillmore has been Gronk-like with ball in his hands

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Crockett Gillmore is coming off a game in which he produced 101 yards receiving, the most by a Baltimore Ravens tight end since Dennis Pitta in 2012.

The more impressive part is how he put up that total. Gillmore finished with 85 yards after the catch, continuing what has been a Rob Gronkowski-like season.

In just his second season, he has developed the reputation for being one of the hardest Ravens players to tackle. Part of it is his size (6 feet 6, 270 pounds) and ability to run over defenders. Another reason can be traced back to his experience in another sport.

"Through wrestling, I can feel guys' leverage on me as they start to pull," said Gillmore, who was 36-3 as a wrestler in his senior year of high school, "and I know when to go with it and when to go against it."

It has certainly carried over onto the football field. Gillmore is averaging 7.9 yards after the catch, which ranks second only to Gronkowski (8.0).

Trying to get Gillmore to the ground has been a challenge ever since high school.

"I think my senior year in high school I had 45 catches and over 1,000 yards," he said. "If you got me down by one guy, it was going to be because he grabbed my foot and held on for life. It was very, very few times."

Gillmore's breakthrough season has been timely because of what happened to Baltimore at the tight end position. Owen Daniels signed with Denver in free agency and Pitta was unable to return this season after hip surgeries in each of the previous two years. Now with the injuries at wide receiver, the Ravens are going to rely on Gillmore heavily in the final six games.

Gillmore is one of four tight ends this season who has totaled over 350 yards receiving, averaging over 13 yards per reception and has scored at least four touchdowns. The others are Gronkowski, Carolina's Greg Olsen and Cleveland's Gary Barnidge.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh has praised Gillmore for his toughness, love of football and the desire to get better.

"I expect Crockett Gillmore to be, really, a top player in this league before it’s all said and done," Harbaugh said.