The Ravens are through four of their five preseason games this year, and with that in mind, the 53 man roster they take into the regular season is becoming more and more clear. While certain things are up in the air (namely, injuries, late signings, and suspensions), many of the spots are all but filled, with a few position battles left to be won. This week, I will take my best crack at predicting the Ravens 2018-19 roster!
Quarterback (2): Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson
Before their game against the Dolphins I was sure that RGIII had earned a spot on the team as Flacco’s primary backup. However, Lamar Jackson rebounded and flashed in a big way, displaying explosiveness, poise, and most importantly, coachability. As long as he follows it up with another strong performance, Jackson has afforded Baltimore one extra roster spot and pushed Griffin III off the 53.
Running Back (3): Alex Collins, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon
The Ravens need to keep 3 backs on the roster, and quite frankly, the undrafted FA runners haven’t shown enough consistency to oust Dixon’s potential. I do expect Gus Edwards to be signed to the practice squad, as he has shown ability, but in limited action, Dixon has looked strong. If everyone stays healthy, the Ravens will have a nicely balanced rushing attack.
Fullback (1): Patrick Ricard
This choice was always obvious, and Ricard’s role on defense should expand as he has shown marked improvement along the line.
Wide Receiver (6): Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead IV, Chris Moore, Janarion Grant, Jordan Lasley
Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh can’t be pleased with the performance of their young receivers, as no one has taken the reigns and leaped out front of the competition. However, Janarion Grant has been the more effective returner and Jordan Lasley has shown an ability to create separation. Both receivers need to work on maintaining their focus throughout each play, but I still believe that Lasley could be a diamond in the rough. Note: Jaleel Scott’s injury made this decision much easier.
Tight End (4): Hayden Hurst, Nick Boyle, Mark Andrews, Maxx Williams
Hayden Hurst’s injury forces Baltimore to keep a fourth tight end on the roster, and between Waller and Williams the team will keep the latter, emphasizing blocking ability. Waller will land on the practice squad, and Williams will be cut upon Jimmy Smith’s return, leaving Baltimore with a talented three-man group at Flacco’s favorite skill position.
Offensive Line (9): Ronnie Stanley, Alex Lewis, Matt Skura, Marshall Yanda, Orlando Brown Jr., James Hurst, Nico Siragusa, Bradley Bozeman, Greg Senat
Baltimore needs a lot of depth here, and they don’t necessarily have a great deal of it. They will keep nine players to counteract the lack of talent, but look for Ozzie to add another piece after cap-cuts are made. The starting O-Line will be as listed above, with Brown, Jr. beating out Hurst for the tackle position.
Defensive Line (6): Brandon Williams, Michael Piece, Willie Henry, Brent Urban, Chris Wormley, Zach Seiler
The defensive line will be deep once again, and it’s possible that the Ravens could make a trade with someone thin at the position. Look for this group to take a step forward and improve a running defense that strayed from the Baltimore norm last year. If they do this and can generate interior pass rush (which I believe Seiler will excel at), the defense will be top-5 in the NFL.
EDGE (6): Terrell Suggs, Matthew Judon, Za’Darius Smith, Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams
The Ravens will hope that the production they’ve seen from Williams and Smith will carry over from the preseason. If so, the depth of this group will allow Martindale to rotate pass rushers throughout the game and keep Suggs fresh for the fourth quarter.
ILB (3): CJ Mosley, Peanut Onwuasor, Kenny Young, Chris Board
Chris Board has impressed on both defense and special teams, and he will provide valuable depth at this position. While many are portraying the spot alongside Mosley as a massive competition, I see the victor as somewhat irrelevant; Onwuasor and Young will each play a great deal.
CB (6): Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Tavon Young, Maurice Canady, Anthony Averett, Stanley Jean-Baptiste
This group is extremely deep and should be able to withstand the loss of Jimmy Smith. When he returns, Jean-Baptiste may be cut, but if he continues to show a knack for taking the ball away, the Ravens will find him snaps.
Safety (4): Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Anthony Levine Sr., Chuck Clark
DeShon Elliott showed promise in the preseason, so his injury was worrying, but these four safeties are all capable and will be big contributors this year. Look for a big step from Chuck Clark; this could be Weddle’s last year.
Specialists (3): Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox
The Wolfpack remains intact for another year.