Predicting the Ravens 53-man Roster
The Ravens wrap up a perfect 4-0 preseason with a 23-14 Win in The Big Easy against the New Orleans Saints. It was the last chance for some guys to show their worth to the coaches. Many auditioning for other teams. The Ravens, and the rest of the NFL, have until 4PM on Saturday, September 3rd to trim the roster down to 53-men. Teams can place waiver claims on released players until noon the following day, at which point 10-man practice squads can be put together.
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Predictions in bold
QB – Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett, Josh Johnson
I think Mallett is going to beat out Johnson. He started game four and was serviceable against the Saints first team defense. Also has more chemistry with the receivers, familiarity with Marc Trestman. It would have taken an absolute dreadful performance to make the Ravens have to think about Johnson. Johnson showed well though. Someone will grab him.
RB – Justin Forsett, Terrence West, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon (Inj. Return W3-W5), Stephen Houston, (Lorenzo Taliaferro, PUP)
Houston got the start in game four, with Allen coming in after him. Likely a showcase for the third-year running back. There would be something hidden in Allen’s closet if Houston made it over him.
FB – Kyle Juszczyk
Other than the “wolfpack”, this is the safest spot on the team.
WR – Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, Mike Wallace, Chris Moore, Breshad Perriman, Jeremy Butler, Michael Campanaro, Keenan Reynolds, Chris Matthews
Campanaro was the games opening kick returner. On his second opportunity he coughed up the ball without getting touched. Many folks have the Ravens keeping seven wide receivers, but I find it hard to see where you can cut someone else. The Ravens are deep among the 50th to 52nd men on the roster, but not at the 54th-56th guys. Chris Moore may be able to be a kick returner as well.
TE – Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta (Inj. Return W1), Maxx Williams (Inj. Return W1), Daniel Brown, (Darren Waller, SSPD 4-games. Nick Boyle, SSPD 10-games. Ben Watson, IR)
No question here. I can’t see them keeping four TEs, just no room for Brown. Maybe he sneaks to the practice squad and can give it another go next year.
OT – Ronnie Stanley (LT), Rick Wagner (RT), De’Ondre Wesley (RT), James Hurst (LT, LG), Blaine Clausell (RT)
Wesley and Hurst battled for what I consider a bubble spot. Hurst lost it more than Wesley won it to me. The flags must have been stuck in the referee’s pockets because Hurst got away with more than a few holds. We know Hurst can’t play. Give it up. In a pinch, It would likely be Alex Lewis kicking out the LT if Ronnie Stanley goes down. Yanda has kicked out to right tackle on plenty of occasions if Wagner goes down.
G – Marshal Yanda (RG, RT), Alex Lewis (LG, LT), John Urschel (LG, C, Inj. Return W1), Vladimir Ducasse (RG)
Not much from Urschel in the preseason as he’s been sidelined with a bad bruise. Ducasse is a veteran who started 11 games in 2015 for Chicago. But he didn’t show well the last few games. If Yanda or Lewis move out to a tackle spot, it’d be Urschel coming in on the left side, Ryan Jensen on the right side.
C – Jeremy Zuttah (C), Ryan Jensen (C, RG), Matt Skura (C)
Zuttah is very solid. Hope he remains healthy. Jensen is not a good blocking center. Urschel has trouble making clean snaps, especially in the shotgun.
Offensive summary: Depth on the O-line is very weak. However, they have potentially two Pro Bowlers there. Marshal Yanda of course. I believe Ronnie Stanley has what it takes as well. Night and day between watching Stanley, and other guys like Eugene Monroe and James Hurst.
The rest of the offense looks just fine though. Good depth at receiver and big potential at tight end. Some good looks from the running backs in Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon when he returns from the sprained knee. I’m not expecting earthshattering numbers by the skill positions. But I expect them to be able to be good enough to hang in there with anybody. I expect Joe Flacco to be closer to 2014 Flacco than 2015 Flacco.
NT – Brandon Williams, Carl Davis
Davis left the final preseason game under his own power with an ankle injury. He’s needed to show improvement from what I saw in the first three games. They are really the only two space eaters on the interior defense.
D-Line – Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence Guy, Willie Henry, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Brent Urban, Za’ Darius Smith, Michael Pierce, (Bronson Kafusi, IR)
I put Smith in this group because he reminds more more of a 4-3 DE than a 3-4 OLB. He’s going to freelance like Pernell McPhee did. Line up in all kinds of places. Henry had a nice preseason. Lewis-Moore and Urban were not great, but need more reps as injuries have slowed their development the last couple years. Pierce threw his name in the hat with a strip sack fumble that he recovered for a defensive touchdown. Maybe if he sneaks to the practice squad, and Davis is going to miss extended time, he can be an asset. But I wouldn’t read much into one great play. Happens every preseason.
OLB – Terrell Suggs, Albert McClellan, Elvis Dumervil, Matt Judon, Brennan Beyer, Victor Ochi
ILB – C.J. Mosley, Zachary Orr, Kamalei Correa, Chris Carter, Arthur Brown, Patrick Onwuasor
So much versatility among the group that guys will be able to line up anywhere. Correa, Carter, McClellan can play inside and outside linebacker. McClellan is making to switch to outside this year, the “Sam” backer. Setting the edge on the strong side on running downs. There are so many combinations, the Ravens can get away with carrying just eight linebackers for four base formation spots. Only thing I’m worried about is coverage by Mosley and Correa. Not necessarily their strong suits. A strong pass rush like they appear to have with rotational pieces in Dumervil, the rookie Judon who turned heads since arriving, and the crafty veteran Suggs, should aid in hiding the weakness’ in pass coverage. Should be forcing opposing QBs into plenty of mistakes. Definitely got younger and faster behind the two veterans. Disappointing, but Arthur Brown can’t make this squad. If his days aren’t numbered, I don’t know who you cut to keep him.
CB – Jimmy Smith, Shareece Wright, Jerraud Powers, Tavon Young, Will Davis, Sheldon Price, Maurice Canady, Julian Wilson, Carrington Byndom
Jimmy Smith is the only sure thing here. Wright was shaky against big receivers. Powers didn’t impress me this preseason. A lot of buzz about the rookie Young, but he had troubles as a nickel corner covering Anquan Boldin a week ago. Then again, who hasn’t. I like what I saw from Sheldon Price, but he didn’t get as many reps as Will Davis, who also held his own. Price is 6’2” which makes him very intriguing as a corner against bigger guys. I’d hope they can sneak him to the practice squad and make him the first one called up if someone isn’t carrying their weight. Maybe the Ravens go the cap saving route and keep the rookie Canady. But sometimes you can’t keep them all. Especially when you had so many draft picks this past draft.
S – Eric Weddle, Lardarius Webb, Kendrick Lewis, Terrence Brooks, Anthony Levine, Matt Elam (Inj. No timetable)
It’s a shame, but Matt Elam looks like a prime candidate for the IR designated to return tag. They haven’t give him a timetable for return, but didn’t rush to straight IR him either. They can do this during cuts to get down to 53-men. Lewis is a guy on the hot seat for me. Brooks looks like he’s developing into a real nice player, maybe can play some nickel sets. Fundamental tackling all preseason by him, which has been lost on this defense for a few years. Levine looks versatile as well. Even playing linebacker in dime formations.
Defensive summary: I think the Ravens are pretty good in all facets. But not great in any one. On the front line I expect Brandon Williams to continue to dominate and eat up space. But outside of him, it’s a craps shoot. Even Timmy Jernigan disappears at times. They are getting younger and faster at the linebacker position. But also asking Albert McClellan to learn a new skill. Suggs and Dumervil aren’t getting any younger. The secondary looks improved with a strong veteran presence with Weddle and Webb, Smith playing at a high level. Communications was a problem last year and you hope that improves. But the depth is another question. The X factor could be the addition of Leslie Frazier to the coaching staff. Hoping a guy like him can turn water into wine like Teryl Austin would with guys like James Ihedigbo and Corey Graham.
LS– Morgan Cox
P – Sam Koch
K – Justin Tucker
The Wolfpack. Maybe the best trio of specialists in the NFL.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]