Starting this week I will be keeping a running tally of where the Ravens rookies stand. The grades will start low for those rookies who have yet to play much in training camp due to injury, their place on the depth chart, finishing college etc. but they have a ton of time to improve, so don’t worry about bad grades at this point in time. This is a progressive grade that will change throughout the season.
Courtney Upshaw- Upshaw has received positive reports from nearly every media outlet and has looked strong in workouts. He did fail his first try at the conditioning test, but that isnt a big concern as many rookies and vets struggle with the test. Upshaw passed it later that day and did not miss an official practice. Upshaw shed weight after the draft in an attempt to be better prepared for his duties in coverage as an OLB and according to Coach Harbaugh, Upshaw has been solid in pass defense.
Grade: B-. Upshaws grade has a potential to skyrocket after the first preseason game next week, but for now I just have to go by what i see. Upshaw has shown promise, but is far from polished.
Kelechi Osemele- KO has had an incredibly fast start to training camp. he sat out the first couple days with back spasms, but once he was activated from the PUP list, he has been great. KO has been getting starters reps at RT due to the absence of McKinney (who should be back in practice tomorrow) which forced incumbent RT Michael Oher over to the left side of the line. Almost all buzz around KO has been positive, one media member even commented that he thought KO was the only starter to not allow a sack on Thursday, he also seemed to be the only guy that could slow down Sergio Kindle last Friday (Kindle had 4 sacks and 2 INTs) noting that Sergio looked noticeably frustrated when up against KO. That all makes sense because KOs enormous frame would make him the type of player that Kindle would struggle with. With McKinney back in practice, it will be interesting to see what happens to KO in the coming days.
Bernard Pierce- Pierce had a rocky start to his camp as he was sidelined with a hamstring injury (It is unknown whether this injury is related to the hamstring injury he suffered from in OTAs). He passed his conditioning test with ease and is splitting backup reps with Anthony Allen. We will know a lot more about Pierce after the first preseason game.
Gino Gradkowski- Gradkowski has been getting most of the reps as the first team center due to Matt Birk sitting out practices due to age. impressions of Gino have generally been positive overall and he received quite a bit of praise from RG Marshall Yanda yesterday and Coach Harbaugh earlier in the week. Gino is likely to start the Ravens first preseason game against the Falcons as Coach Harbaugh has all but ruled out Matt Birk to play in the contest.
Christian Thompson- Thompson has had a great camp so far. he has been disrupting plays, picking off passes and generally being a menace in the backfield. Ed Reed and Coach Harbaugh both have had positive things to say about Thompson as have the media members attending Ravens practices. Add all that to the Ravens history of finding steals at the safety position and it is easy to get a positive feeling about Thompson.
Asa Jackson- Asa has seen quite a bit of play time due to the nature of the Ravens secondary where a ton of players get solid reps. Jackson has had some good moments and some bad moments. He picked off two passes thursday, but just one day earlier he was beaten badly on several TD passes. That is pretty par for the course for rookie corners, especially project type players like Jackson.
Tommy Streeter- Streeter is a project. A big one. His route running is even more un-refined than advertised, his hands can be a bit suspect and he has a bad tendency to be way out of position on plays. Streeter has a ton of issues, but man o man is he fast. He makes Torrey Smith look slow on some plays. He also has elite leaping ability and excellent timing when he jumps for a ball. Streeter has a long way to go and a short time to get there, but he has a ton of potential.
Deangelo Tyson- Solid seems to be the only way i can think of to describe Tyson. he hasnt done anything great, but he also hasnt made many mistakes. Its pretty easy to imagine Tyson being a valuable rotation player for years to come for the Ravens DL.
Deonte Thompson- Thompson flashed big time potential in OTAs and has continued to be solid in training camp. Thompson will be in a dog fight for a roster spot with Tommy Streeter.
Nigel Carr- Carr has been a solid performer and a fan favorite all offseason and he has continued to look good in camp. Carr will be right in the thick of the roster fight. Don’t expect Carr to be a contender for a starting job but he could be a special teams staple from day one.
Bobby Rainey- Rainey was a player that Ravens fans were calling for immediately following the draft and they didnt have to wait long to get their wish. Rainey has been consistently solid in camp and might even be in the competition for the Ravens backup RB job with Anthony Allen failing to separate himself and Pierce out with an injury.
Justin Tucker- Tucker was signed as a camp leg under the guise of being a kicking competition but his incredible performance thus far has made this a real life kicking battle. So far Tucker has outperformed Cundiff by a significant margin(at a cheaper price tag) and he even hit a 60 yarder during a live drill yesterday. If Tucker keeps it up during the preseason, Cundiff might end up out of a job.