The Ravens don’t have to trim their roster down to 53 players until Saturday; but with no availability today in Owings Mills (there is a walk through prior to the trip to Atlanta for Thursday night’s game against the Falcons), I thought this would be a good time to play fantasy GM and project who will be on the good of the 53 come Saturday.
A reminder that there are currently 75 players counting against the Ravens’ roster. Samari Rolle is on the PUP list and will miss the first 6 weeks of the season.
Let me start by breaking down (position by position) the players on this roster who are ABSOLUTELY safe:
Therefore there are 44 positions on this team ABSOLUTELY filled. That would leave 9 jobs available to the other 31 men on the roster. Let me eliminate some of those guys who will NOT be making this team.
WR Eron Riley, WR Ernie Wheelwright, TE Isaac Smolko, OL Robby Felix, OL Bryan Mattison, OT Stefan Rodgers, LB Tony Fein, LB William VanDeSteeg, DT Nader Abdallah, DL Will Johnson
Some of these men will find their way back to the practice squad. It is hard to eliminate any potential help at positions like WR, OT, or TE; but none of these guys have really done enough to ensure bubble status.
Subtracting those 10 men, I am left with 9 jobs available for 21 players.
However, one of those available jobs is kicker. Steve Hauschka has all but locked up the job, but he’s not a definite to beat Graham Gano. There is an outside chance Matt Stover could still take the job, which would likely mean the team would keep Gano as a kickoff specialist. We will work under the assumption that Hauschka wins the kicking job.
I now have 8 jobs available for 19 players. Here are the players:
RB/FB-Matt Lawrence, Cedric Peerman, Jason Cook
WR-Justin Harper, Yamon Figurs, Jayson Foster
TE-Edgar Jones, Davon Drew
OL-Joe Reitz, Tre Stallings
CB/S-Evan Oglesby, Derrick Martin, K.J. Gerard
LB-Dannell Ellerbe, Antwan Barnes, Prescott Burgess, Jason Phillips
DL-Brandon McKinney, Kelly Talavou
Now I have to try to be like Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta, and John Harbaugh. This is difficult because all of those men are MUCH smarter than I am. But I am going to rank those players from 1-19 regardless of position. The top 8 will be the guys who get the final jobs on my “mock” team. I’ve separated them into a first group of 4 that I am VERY confident will be on the team, and a 2nd group of 4 that I am NOT as confident about.
1-DT Kelly Talavou (Has anyone come on stronger in the last two weeks? His play against the Jets and Panthers almost made me declare him a “lock” on this team.)
2-S/CB Derrick Martin (Five safeties might seem like a bit much, but what Martin offers is an additional veteran cornerback, which is especially valuable with Samari Rolle out.)
3-DT Brandon McKinney (Much like Talavou, the Ravens LOVE McKinney’s size; and in a 4-3 base defense under Greg Mattison, it certainly won’t hurt to carry an extra D-Lineman.)
4-LB Antwan Barnes (Should actually be feeling pretty safe. A lot of people may have never thought Antwan was on the bubble, but I think he came in needing to prove something this year.)
5-RB Matt Lawrence (Matt has been really impressive. I don’t know how this team can use a 4th running back; but I just can’t see them letting him go.)
6-LB Jason Phillips (Hasn’t played badly in the preseason, but hasn’t overwhelmed. The team has to take into consideration the fact that Jason is coming off a knee injury in the spring; and is a good tackler.)
7- FB Jason Cook (Is actually my “last man in.” I don’t know that the Ravens feel the need to keep a 2nd FB, but if they do-it will be Jason. If the Ravens are to pursue an additional WR this weekend, I believe they would take Jason’s spot.)
8-TE Davon Drew (I’m not sure Davon is better than Edgar Jones, or more deserving of a roster spot. I’m also not sure the Ravens would even keep an additional TE if not for LJ Smith’s hamstring. A gut feeling here.)
9-LB Dannell Ellerbe (When I asked Coach Harbs about Ellerbe the other day, he told me “you can’t make the club in the tub.” That’s not good news for a guy who seemed like he was on his way to making the team before missing the better part of the last few weeks.)
10-WR Jayson Foster (Could be a wild card in this entire process. He’s too small to play WR, but he DOES have something to offer on Special Teams. But Special Teams players can’t be liabilities elsewhere on the field. I just don’t know how Cam Cameron could use him.)
11-RB Cedric Peerman (I get the feeling the Ravens are very disappointed in the progress of the rookie out of Virginia. Peerman might make a lot of teams, but he’s just not quite as good as the 4 guys ahead of him on the depth chart.)
12-TE Edgar Jones (“Versatility” isn’t quite as valuable as “good.” Edgar can play multiple positions, but has never shown himself to be able to play any of them particularly well.)
13-WR Justin Harper (His flashes of brilliance don’t make up for a lack of consistency. The Ravens MIGHT choose to go with him just because they need a taller target, but I don’t think he’s quite good enough.)
14-LB Prescott Burgess (Just lost in the shuffle from what I can see. This could again be a position where the team decides they would rather have an additional veteran; but I don’t think he’s earned a spot on the team this year.)
15-WR Yamon Figurs (All speed. That’s just not enough. Being knocked out of the KR competition doomed Yamon.)
16-CB KJ Gerard (The organization seemed to be really enthused about the UFA out of Northern Arizona during minicamps, but I haven’t heard the same praise over the summer.)
17-CB Evan Oglesby (I just don’t think he fits in anymore. They upgraded the position, and Evan doesn’t fit with those guys.)
18-OT Tre Stallings (It’s hard to turn down an additional Tackle, but Stallings just doesn’t seem to be quite good enough.)
19-OT Joe Reitz (Ditto from Stallings.)
Therefore, my FINAL roster is……
WHERE I MAY BE WRONG: 8 Offensive Lineman is a bit troubling. Tre Stallings could get a significant bump if this organization just doesn’t feel comfortable without an additional backup Tackle.)
Let me know what you think. I’m working this based on my own personal observations and a SMALL amount of feedback I’ve heard from members of the organization prior to Training Camp, out in Westminster, and these last 2 weeks at 1 Winning Drive.