With the preseason opener against Carolina now in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to project the Ravens’ 53-man roster for the first time since the end of mandatory minicamp in mid-June.
My current look at the roster suggests 45 players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 90 players currently on the preseason roster lists 22 players on the bubble. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking depth and others enjoying extensive talent.
Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of keeping a balanced number of players at each position, trying to boldly pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers or safeties isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. In filling out the back end of their roster, the Ravens will look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their respective offensive or defensive positions.
The Ravens must trim the roster from 90 players to 75 on Aug. 30 and will go down to the regular-season number of 53 on Sept. 3.
The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. Bubble players’ names that are underlined are part of the projected 53-man roster as of Aug. 17.
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett
LONG SHOT: Josh Johnson, Jerrod Johnson
Skinny: Mallett hasn’t had a sharp training camp, but he remains entrenched as the backup quarterback with a similar style of play to Flacco. Josh Johnson is having a decent summer, but Flacco not missing a single practice rep to this point speaks to how little the Ravens need a No. 3 quarterback.
RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (7)
LOCK: Justin Forsett, Kyle Juszczyk, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Terrance West
BUBBLE: Lorenzo Taliaferro
LONG SHOT: Stephen Houston
Skinny: No one has done more to solidify his roster standing this summer than West, who is making a strong push for an extensive role in the Baltimore rushing attack. Taliaferro’s best bet might be to start the year on the physically unable to perform list where the Ravens can reassess his status after Week 6.
WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
LOCK: Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, Breshad Perriman, Mike Wallace, Chris Moore
BUBBLE: Michael Campanaro, Jeremy Butler, Keenan Reynolds, Chris Matthews
LONG SHOT: Chuck Jacobs, Dobson Collins, Darius White
Skinny: On ability alone, Campanaro would be a lock, but the Ravens would probably hate to lose a solid option like Butler while the former has shown little ability to stay on the field to this point in his career. With Perriman still not practicing, the reserve PUP list becomes a greater possibility.
TIGHT ENDS (7)
LOCK: Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Dennis Pitta
LONG SHOT: Daniel Brown
SUSPENDED: Nick Boyle, Darren Waller
Skinny: Pitta has missed over two weeks with a finger injury, but he showed in the spring and the early days of camp that he is still good enough to contribute if healthy. Waller has shown potential at his new position and would have made for a difficult decision if not for his pending four-game suspension.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (15)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Rick Wagner, Jeremy Zuttah, John Urschel, Alex Lewis
BUBBLE: Ryan Jensen, Vlad Ducasse, De’Ondre Wesley, James Hurst
LONG SHOT: Anthony Fabiano, Matt Skura, Jarell Broxton, Blaine Clausell, Stephane Nembot
Skinny: The Ravens probably wouldn’t mind adding a veteran tackle to back up Stanley and Wagner, but Lewis is considered a future starter and handled left tackle well in the first preseason game. Hurst appears to be the odd man out as he has flipped between tackle and guard all summer.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
LOCK: Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence Guy, Carl Davis, Willie Henry, Brent Urban
BUBBLE: Kapron Lewis-Moore, Michael Pierce
LONG SHOT: Trevon Coley
INJURED RESERVE: Bronson Kaufusi
Skinny: The Ravens have enough depth to survive the season-ending loss of the third-round rookie Kaufusi, but Urban needs to show more as the primary backup to Guy. There might be one roster spot for Lewis-Moore or Pierce, and the latter is built similarly to Williams at the nose tackle spot.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS (6)
LOCK: C.J. Mosley, Zachary Orr, Kamalei Correa
BUBBLE: Arthur Brown
LONG SHOT: Kavell Conner, Patrick Onwuasor
Skinny: Correa initially looked like he was the early favorite to start next to Mosley, but Orr has seized control of the job over the last week or so. The ability of other players on the roster such as Albert McClellan and Anthony Levine to shift to inside linebacker leaves Brown in serious trouble.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (9)
LOCK: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Za’Darius Smith, Albert McClellan, Matt Judon
BUBBLE: Chris Carter, Victor Ochi
LONG SHOT: Brennen Beyer, Mario Ojemudia
Skinny: Carter excelled against Carolina and can play outside and inside, making him an interesting bubble player. Meanwhile, Ochi, a rookie free agent from Stony Brook, has flashed potential in practices and appears to be a player the Ravens might try to hide and sneak onto the practice squad.
LOCK: Jimmy Smith, Shareece Wright, Jerraud Powers, Tavon Young
BUBBLE: Will Davis, Sheldon Price, Maurice Canady, Kyle Arrington
LONG SHOT: Julian Wilson, Carrington Byndom
Skinny: Davis has looked healthier and quicker over the last couple practices after a slow start to the summer, but depth is again a concern with even Wright and Powers struggling in the preseason opener. Price, Canady, and Arrington have dealt with recent injuries to further cloud the competition.
LOCK: Eric Weddle, Lardarius Webb
BUBBLE: Anthony Levine, Kendrick Lewis, Terrence Brooks, Matt Elam
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: This might be the toughest position group to gauge as Lewis is a favorite of the coaches while Elam and Brooks have had solid camp performances. Levine is a very good special-teams player and has worked extensively as a hybrid linebacker this spring and summer.
LOCK: Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
LONG SHOT: Wil Lutz
Skinny: There’s still nothing to see here with Lutz merely easing the workload of Tucker and Koch.