Mocking The 53: A Training Camp Eve Look at Ravens Roster

July 25, 2010 | Glenn Clark

Back in early June, I put together my first “Mocking the 53” entry; breaking down how the Baltimore Ravens roster appeared following the end of mini-camps. Since that time, there have been some roster additions (welcome Marc Bulger, Ken Hamlin, Walt Harris); subtractions (we’ll never forget William VanDeSteeg, Brad Jones, Chris Hannon, Maurice Price, John Fletcher, Daniel Sanders, Courtney Smith, Ashton Hall and Digger Bujnoch); and “Ed Reed Month” has captured the attention of Charm City.

With coaches, quarterbacks, rookies and players coming off injuries scheduled to report to McDaniel College Monday, I thought today would be a good time to take another look at where the roster stands. There aren’t MANY changes; but it’s worth taking another look at.

Here’s how I explained these rankings the first time I posted them…

Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh and company will at least MOSTLY keep the 53 best players on the roster, I am going to try to identify the Top 53 players on the roster myself. It ISN’T a perfect science, and some of the players will have outside circumstances that will influence where they find themselves on the list. Similarly, the Ravens will make some decisions based on health, position needs, etc.

I’m putting “best overall players”, “most significant players”, and “position relevance” into my “Top 53″ rankings. This isn’t just a list of the 53 best players on the team. This is however a list-at this moment-of the 53 players I believe are most likely to make the roster.

1. QB Joe Flacco
2. OT Michael Oher
3. WR Anquan Boldin
4. DT Haloti Ngata
5. LB Ray Lewis
6. RB Ray Rice
7. WR Derrick Mason
8. LB Terrell Suggs
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9. OT Jared Gaither
10. LB Jarret Johnson

I only made a few adjustments to the Top 10 this time around. After talking to some NFL personnel folks, I came to the conclusion that I slightly overvalued Ray Rice and slightly undervalued Ray Lewis. The fact is-the Ravens have great depth at RB behind Rice. While the team wouldn’t be as dynamic offensively without him; they could survive for at least a period of time should he get hurt. The team does NOT have the same type of depth at ILB, as they have SOLID players-just not guys who can step in for someone like #52. The other change I made in the Top 10 was at #10; as Jarret Johnson replaces Ed Reed. With the acquisition of Ken Hamlin and the very realistic possibility that Reed will miss the first six weeks of the season; it’s hard to leave even a future Hall of Fame safety in the Top 10.

11. S Ed Reed
12. DT Terrence Cody
13. OG Ben Grubbs
14. DE Trevor Pryce
15. DL Cory Redding
16. TE Todd Heap
17. CB Domonique Foxworth
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18. C Matt Birk
19. OL Marshal Yanda
20. QB Marc Bulger

Welcome to the list Marc Bulger. The fact is, the team doesn’t give a player nearly $4 million (with the chance to make over $5 million) if he’s not an important part of the roster. No matter what Ed Reed or Joe Flacco says to the media, the team is obviously very happy to have the former St. Louis Rams QB on the roster. Otherwise, the next 10 stays about the same as my first post. One of the most interesting things to watch this week in Westminster will be the weight Terrence Cody reports at. If it is around the 350 the team wants from him, he’ll solidify his Top 12 standing on this roster. If it is more than that, his stock could drop.

21. FB Le’Ron McClain
22. S Dawan Landry
23. CB Lardarius Webb
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24. LB Sergio Kindle
25. LB Dannell Ellerbe
26. CB Fabian Washington
27. WR Donte’ Stallworth
28. K Shayne Graham
29. LB Tavares Gooden
30. DT Kelly Gregg

The biggest riser in this group is Shayne Graham, who was 41st on my initial list. In talking to folks both in Owings Mills and around the league; it has become clear that the team is working under the assumption that Graham will win the “competition” with Billy Cundiff. Should he struggle in the preseason, clearly his place on the list could fluctuate. Lardarius Webb dropped just a bit due to the acquisition of Walt Harris; as the team has a bit more depth at CB should Webb not return as healthy as hoped. Also dropping a few spots is rookie LB Sergio Kindle as we await more details surrounding his head injury that will force him to miss the start of Training Camp.

31. TE Ed Dickson
32. P Sam Koch
33. OL Chris Chester
34. CB Chris Carr
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35. RB Willis McGahee
36. S Ken Hamlin
37. S Haruki Nakamura
38. S Tom Zbikowski
39. LB Jameel McClain
40. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo

Ken Hamlin debuts at #36, and could rise from there depending on how he looks in the preseason. As of right now, there is a common assumption that Hamlin could very well be the guy to start alongside Dawan Landry Week 1 in East Rutherford; as Ed Reed looks like he may well end up on the PUP list. Should Hamlin show the form that made him a Pro Bowl selection with the Dallas Cowboys, he should hold off Tom Zbikowski easily at the “centerfield” safety spot.

41. TE Dennis Pitta
42. CB Walt Harris
43. WR Mark Clayton
44. DE Paul Kruger
45. QB Troy Smith
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46. LS Matt Katula
47. OT Oniel Cousins
48. LB Antwan Barnes
49. RB Jalen Parmele
50. DT Brandon McKinney
51. WR David Reed
52. DT Kelly Talavou
53. OL David Hale

The guy that drops the most in this list is Troy Smith, as the acquisition of Marc Bulger leaves him 3rd on the QB Depth Chart. Should he be traded to a team that suffers a QB injury during the preseason; Cam Cameron favorite John Beck would take his roster spot right back. David Hale gets the last spot on the 53 due to the need for interior OL depth behind Chris Chester-although the team could well decide to keep Tony Moll for that role. They could also keep Ramon Harewood (who looks like a Practice Squad guy to me) if he was capable of moving in and playing guard.

54. QB John Beck
55. K Billy Cundiff
56. DT Arthur Jones
57. OT Ramon Harewood
58. WR Demetrius Williams
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59. CB Travis Fisher
60. OL Tony Moll
61. LB Prescott Burgess
62. RB Matt Lawrence
63. LB Edgar Jones
64. LB Jason Phillips
65. CB Cary Williams
66. DT Lamar Divens
67. TE Davon Drew
68. WR Marcus Smith
69. WR Justin Harper
70. S KJ Gerard

This is really incredible. Players 54-70 on this list ALL appear to be legitimate NFL players; just guys who face VERY uphill battles when it comes to trying to make this crowded roster.

John Beck will have to beat Troy Smith or hope he’s traded. Billy Cundiff will have to beat Shayne Graham. Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens are battling Brandon McKinney and Kelly Talavou; with an outside chance that Kelly Gregg could be let go to pave the way for one of them to make the team.

Ramon Harewood and Tony Moll are battling Oniel Cousins and David Hale; but are also hoping to convince the team they’re valuable enough to just keep another O-Lineman altogether. Demetrius Williams, Marcus Smith and Justin Harper are all hoping to prove that their size makes them more valuable than David Reed or Mark Clayton; or that they’re valuable enough for John Harbaugh to go with a 6th receiver.

Travis Fisher, Cary Williams and KJ Gerard are battling the likes of Walt Harris to try to steal a spot in the secondary. One of them will likely benefit from Ed Reed‘s injury to get onto the roster. Prescott Burgess is hoping to avoid being a roster casualty for a 2nd straight year; as he, Jason Phillips and Edgar Jones know that Brendon Ayanbadejo, Antwan Barnes, Jameel McClain and Paul Kruger are their competition for making the roster.

Matt Lawrence has to prove he’s back from his knee injury a season ago and his value at RB and on Special Teams makes him worthwhile amongst a group that includes Jalen Parmele. Davon Drew is trying to find some room at TE behind Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

The fact is, these are all winnable jobs for the players farther down on the roster; and they’re not just competing with each other. A strong preseason from Demetrius Williams could earn him a spot but prove costly for a player like Brandon McKinney with the team deep at DT. A strong preseason from Matt Lawrence could leave Antwan Barnes an afterthought.

Jerry Rosburg will ultimately have a big say in who gets the final spots, as a player’s value to the Special Teams unit could outweigh his value at his own position. Lawrence, Smith, Burgess, E. Jones and Gerard could all use that to their advantage in trying to make the roster.

71. FB Mike McLaughlin
72. CB Prince Miller
73. CB Marcus Paschal
74.  OT Joe Reitz
75. WR Eron Riley
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76. RB Curtis Steele
77. OL Bryan Mattison
78. OT Stefan Rodgers
79. LS Morgan Cox
80. WR Rodelin Anthony
81. DE Albert McClellan

There are guys who have a chance at making the roster in this final group, but they have to be considered longshots. Eron Riley was popular amongst the members of the team’s coaching staff while on the practice squad last year. Unfortunately, the logjam of taller receivers fighting for roster spots ahead of him makes it likely he will end up heading right back to the practice squad this year.

Mike McLaughlin, Prince Miller and Curtis Steele are all UFA’s who have legitimate chances of lighting the world on fire in the preseason and winning jobs; but all appear more likely to be practice squad bound. Should Matt Katula show lingering signs of the elbow troubles that bothered him last year, Morgan Cox could have a chance to win the LS job outright.

That’s the roster as it stands right now. We all know injuries and other potential roster moves will change things before the Ravens head to the Meadowlands for Monday Night Football on Sept. 13. I’ll try to update this after each preseason game; with September 4 looming as “cutdown” day.

Remember, updates from Luke Jones and myself at Training Camp begin Monday; and can be heard at the bottom of the hour EVERY hour throughout the day.

-G

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