Jan 9, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Courtney Upshaw (41) reacts during the second half of the 2012 BCS National Championship game against the LSU Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

Projecting the Ravens starting lineups


Its still a bit early for me to try and definitively state who will or wont start this season, but it isnt to early to take a look at the guys who have this inside track to a starting job and guess as to whether they will maintain that role. Lets dive in.

 

QB

Current Starter- Joe Flacco

Projected Starter- Joe Flacco

What Might Change- The only thing that will keep Flacco from starting is an injury. he is the teams starter and has no competition for the job.

 

FB

Current Starter- Vonta Leech

Projected Starter- Vonta Leech

What Might Change- Nothing. the Ravens brought in a coupl UDFAs at the position but the only guy with a real roster shot is Chad Deihl and even he wont challenge Leech. Leech is the games best FB and he is under no threat of losing his job.

 

RB

Current Starter- Ray Rice

Projected Starter- Ray Rice

What Might Change- Like Flacco, Rice is an absolute lock barring an Injury or in Rices case a possible holdout. That said, I think we will see Rice sign a long term deal in the fairly near future. Now that Shady McCoy signed with the Eagles the market for Rice has been firmly set and all that is left to negotiate is the guaranteed money and the year to year dispersion.

 

No. 2 RB(change of pace)

Current Starter- Anthony Allen

Projected Starter- Bernard Pierce

What Might Change- Allen has been penciled in as the Starter since Ricky Williams announced his retirement but Pierce is a better player. I would be surprised if Pierce didnt get the bulk of the no.2 RB work but I would also be surprised if Allen didn’t play a much bigger role in the offense than he did last season (3 carries for 8 yards in garbage time).

 

No. 1 WR

Current Starter- Anquan Boldin

Projected Starter- Anquan Boldin

What Might Change- Boldin will remain the no.1 WR by name on the depth chart but i expect defenses to treat Torrey Smith as the no.1 WR in most games next season.

 

No. 2 WR

Current Starter- Torrey Smith

Projected Starter- Torrey Smith

What Might Change- Nothing. Smith is a superstar WR in the making.

 

No. 3 WR

Current Starter- Tandon Doss

Projected Starter- Jacoby Jones

What Might Change- Doss has been penciled in since the Ravens cut ties with Lee Evans but the recent signing of Jacoby Jones(2 years 5.5 million (just $900,000 year one) with incentives that could make it 7 million) makes Doss a very unlikely option as WR3. Jones brings speed, ability and experience to the position without being used up like the last few free agent (or trade) WRs the Ravens have signed.

 

TE

Current Starter- Ed Dickson

Projected Starter- Ed Dickson

What Could Change- This is the most pointless position to try and figure out a starter for, both Dickson and Pitta will play comparable minutes so which one is the starter is really irrelevant.

 

LT

Current Starter- Bryant McKinney

Projected Starter- Bryant McKinney

What Might Change- Barring an injury McKinney is the starter. he has trimmed down in the offseason and the Ravens gave him his “fatty” bonus which means he is in shape. Don’t expect any surprises here.

 

LG

Current Starter- Jah Reid

Projected Starter- Keleche Osemele

What Might Change- Reid is the current starter but i get the feeling that not only did the Ravens FO think they got a complete steal out of Osemele in the second round, but that they were extremely impressed with him during rookie camp. Reid is the starter for now, but i have a feeling that this is Osemeles job to lose. This might be the better long term decision anyway because when Bryant McKinney moves on it would be surprising if the Ravens didnt use Reid at RT and move Oher over to the left. That means that using Reid at LG this year would likely mean 4 of the 5 positions on the OL would change next year(LT, LG, C, RT) with only Yanda staying at his position instead of just moving 3 guys(LT, RT, C).

 

C

Current Starter- Matt Birk

Projected Starter- Matt Birk

What Might Change- as long as Birk is healthy he will be the starter. Rookie C Gino Gradkowski would replace him if needed.

 

RG

Current Starter- Marshall Yanda

Projected Starter- Marshall Yanda

What Might Change- Nothing, When healthy Yanda is the second best OG in the NFL and a lock to start at RG.

 

RT

Current Starter- Michael Oher

Projected Starter- Michael Oher

What Might Change- Nothing. Oher is one of the better RTs in the league. if he could develop some consistency he would be a probowler, either way he is a starting calibre player all the time and a dominant player for a game or two a season. fun fact, Oher registered the best single game RT tackle performance of the season by any player in the league in the game against Arizona according to the metrics at PFF.

 

Left DE

Current Starter- Haloti Ngata

Projected Starter- Haloti Ngata

What Might Change- Nothing, I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again, Haloti Ngata is the best defensive player in the NFL. as long as Ngata is a Raven he will be starting somewhere. the only way it isn’t at DE is maybe if Terrence Cody were to get injured and Ngata slid over to play NT instead.

 

NT

Current Starter- Terrence Cody

Projected Starter- Terrence Cody

What Might Change- Not much, like the past few positions, Cody is firmly entrenched as the starter. Terrence Cody was Ozzie Newsomes pick for breakout player last season and Ozzie was right 100%. Cody went from situational run defender to one of the leagues better Nose Tackles. the last 4 weeks of the season he played as well as any DL in the league, if he could maintain that level of play on a consistent basis he would have a shot at being a probowler.

 

Right DE

Current Starter- Art Jones

Projected Starter- Art Jones

What Might Change- The competition is on at DE. Pernell McPhee and Jones will duke it out in one of the more interesting position battles of training camp to decide this one. Jones is just a more rounded player and McPhee gets pushed around against power run teams.

 

LOLB

Current Starter- Terrell Suggs

Projected Starter- Paul Kruger

What Might Change- We all know about the Suggs injury by now so im not going to talk much about it. As far as picking Kruger over Upshaw is concerned, i just feel that Kruger is a better fit on the left side than he is on the Right, and i feel that Upshaw fits better on the right than on the Left. both could play either side but you have to play to the strengths of your personnel.

 

MLB

Current Starters- Ray Lewis/Jameel McClain

Projected Starters- Ray Lewis/Jameel McClain

What Might Change- not much, before Suggs got hurt i had pondered the idea that Upshaw might compete for time at MLB but with a much more pressing issue happening at OLB Upshaw is pretty much a lock to start at one of the two outside positions which takes him out of the running for playtime at MLB.

 

ROLB

Current Starter- Paul Kruger

Projected Starter- Courtney Upshaw

What Might Change- Kruger could stay here and Upshaw would play LOLB where he played in college but i see Upshaw as a significantly better fit on the right side. he is better against the run and in coverage than Paul Kruger is and the Ravens need reliable play in both of those aspects on the Right side. I could also see Pernell McPhee getting significant play time at OLB this year.

 

No. 1 CB

Current Starter- Lardarius Webb

Projected Starter- Lardarius Webb

What Might Change- Is there any doubt? statistically Webb was a top 5 corner last season and was one of the biggest Pro Bowl snubs at any position. Webb is a near shutdown player and has a nose for the ball.

 

No. 2 CB

Current Starter- Cary Williams

Projected Starter- Jimmy Smith

What Might Change- Williams is a solid player. he rarely gets burned, he is never out of position and he plays an all around solid game. That said Smith has the potential to be one of the NFLs best players and with a full offseason it would be very surprising if Smith didn’t steal the starting job.

 

No. 3 CB

Current Starter- Jimmy Smith

Projected Starter- Cary Williams

What Might Change- Pretty much just read what i said above, Williams wasnt bad last year and doesnt deserve to lose his job, but Smith is going to outperform him plain and simple.

 

FS

Current Starter- Ed Reed

Projected Starter- Ed Reed

What Might Change- Dont worry about the retirement talk, i dont think there is much to it. Reed just speaks his mind and doesnt filter himself. As long as Reed is in Baltimore he is the starting FS.

 

SS

Current Starter- Bernard Pollard

Projected Starter- Bernard Pollard

What Might Change- The Ravens just signed Pollard to a three year extension. That extension is probably the best move the Ravens have made all offseason aside from the Webb contract. Pollard really came into his own as a player last year and is a great fit in the Ravens scheme, expect more improvement from him with a full offseason of work and more comfort in the defense.

 

P

Current Starter- Sam Koch

Projected Starter- Sam Koch

What Might Change- Nothing, and it isnt worth talking about. Koch is a top 5 punter in the league and isnt going anywhere.

 

KR

Current Starter- I have no clue. David Reed? Torrey Smith? Webb? who knows, its a revolving door.

Projected Starter- Jacoby Jones

What Might Change- David Reed is a disaster. He fumbled away the Ravens season in Seattle and tore his ACL at the end of the season. Add that to his off field issues which got him suspended at the start of last season and you have the recipe for a lost job. Jones was brought in to do this.

 

PR

Current Starter- Lardarius Webb

Projected Starter- Jacoby Jones

What Might Change- Webb is a great return man and thats a huge reason why he made the Ravens roster as a rookie. but those days are long gone. Webb is worth way to much to the team to be returning punts(especially with Suggs out). Jones was paid to be the return mane and he will do the job well.

 

K

Current Starter- Billy Cundiff

Projected Starter- Justin Tucker

What Might Change- Before you jump on me, know that i am NOT one of the Cundiff haters. i felt that the Ravens should stick with Cundiff after the AFCC game because one miss doesn’t make him a bad kicker. I think there is a possibility that the Ravens will carry both Cundiff and Tucker this season because tucker has proven to be a solid long range kicker time and time again whereas Cundiff has never been a great long range player. It wouldn’t be the first time the Ravens carried two kickers, in 2008 they carried Steven Haushka and Matt Stover because Stover didn’t have much range at the end of his career. This wouldn’t be much different.

 

Players not listed that could receive generous playing time(only with good offseasons in some cases):

Pernell McPhee, DE/OLB

Albert McClellin, DE/OLB

Brenden Ayenbedejo, LB

Anthony Allen, RB

Damien Berry, RB

Asa Jackson, CB

Gino Gradkowski, C

Josh Bynes, ILB

Morgan Cox(Starting Long Snapper, i just didnt feel it was necessary to list), LS

Tandon Doss, WR

Danell Elerbe, ILB

Danny Gorrer, CB

Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, DE

Maake Kemoeatu, NT

Sergio Kindle, OLB

Michael McAdoo, OLB

Tommy Streeter, WR

 

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