Analyzing the Ravens “Final” Roster
Aug 15, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Aaron Mellette (13) celebrates after scoring a 40 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at M
The Ravens made their final cuts this weekend, and the picture of what the Ravens will look like this season is clearer than ever. Here are my thoughts on the Ravens roster.
No surprises here. the Ravens haven’t carried 3 QBs in years. Tyrod Taylor showed enough in the preseason for the Ravens to continue to feel comfortable with him as Flaccos’ sole backup. Caleb Hanie didn’t prove he wasn’t expendable. Not much to talk about here.
Carrying just 2 RBs is a pretty risky proposition. That said, Ray Rice is one of the most durable backs in the league and they do have Kyle Juszczyk who is probably as solid of an option as any other 3rd string runningback.
No surprises here, Leech is the leagues best lead blocker and the Ravens just drafted juice so they weren’t about to cut him. expect KJ to spend quite a bit of time at TE and as a slot receiver.
As of now, the Ravens are really only carrying 2 TEs. The word on the street is that Pitta will go on IR with a return designation but they have to wait until tuesday to do so. That means they have to give him a roster spot until then. Expect the Ravens to sign another tight end, probably Billy Bajema, after Pitta hits IR. As it stands Dickson is going to be relied upon to be a major part of the Ravens passing game. Hopefully Dallas Clark can get back to being closer to the player he once was and further from the shell of himself he has been in the preseason. Kyle Juszczyk will sub in at times as a TE.
The Ravens originally had LaQuan Williams on the roster as well, but after reaching an injury settlement with him, he was waived. There isn’t a ton of proven skill here, but there is a lot of talent and potential here. Torrey Smith and Brandon Stokley are both good receivers and will likely be Flaccos’ go to guys. Jacoby Jones has had flashes as a WR, but his niche area is as a returner, not so much as a pass catcher. Marlon Brown and Deonte Thompson are the guys to watch. Brown looks like a future star and Deonte Thompson was slated to compete for a starting job with Jacoby Jones before he was injured. Aaron Mellette showed a lot of potential during the preseason, but don’t look for him to make much of an impact this year.
The starting five has been set pretty much all year, the only position in flux was center, but Gino Gradkowski easily won the starting job, as expected, so it worked out just like we thought it would. The Ravens look to have perhaps the best guard tandem in the NFL with Marshal Yanda (arguably the leagues best RG) and Kelechi Osemele who could be a breakout player this year and is, at worst, an upper tier guard. Bryant McKinnie was, beleive it or not, the Ravens best player according to PFF, in the preseason and was near flawless in the playoffs last year. Oher is getting to move back to hie natural position where he plays well. The Ravens only kept 4 depth players and none of them are tackles, so if McKinnie or Oher go down, expect Osemele to shift back to RT and the rest of the line to fill in around that.
This looks to be perhaps the Ravens best group. We all know Haloti Ngata is a top 3 lineman when healthy add in Chris Canty, who looks like a one man wrecking crew, and all around solid player Art Jones and the Ravens are stacked with their starting three. They also have great depth with Marcus Spears and Brandon Williams. Terrence Cody has lost fan support, but he looks healthy and strong once again after battling injury all last year and having offseason surgery. DeAngelo Tyson will play special teams, he also put in really good minutes down the stretch last season and is still developing as a player. He has a bright future.
Smith is clearly the star of this group and has been one of the most under-rated linebackers in the league for years. That ends as he steps into the spotlight of baltimore and the shoes of Ray Lewis. Josh Bynes is a surprise starter (at least he was a few weeks ago), but expect Arthur Brown to continue to push him for play time. Bynes is more of a run stuffer and Brown a pass defender so they will both likely see plenty of field time. McClellen is an under-rated player who I believe the Ravens would have started if they needed to. They also recently signed James off of Waivers, McClellen and James will be mostly special teams players.
The Ravens have some solid depth and players here as well. By now you may be starting to see a trend. The Ravens defense, specifically the front seven, is absolutely loaded. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil might end up being the best pass rushing duo in football this year. Courtney Upshaw is a nightmare in run defense. Even though he is just in his second season, he has made his mark as one of the top edge setter in the league. Pernell McPhee has made the move from DE to OLB, he looks good so far and should further add to the Ravens pass rush. John Simon will primarily play special teams this year but he has an extremely high motor and is a relentless pass rusher, but he needs to develop more to be a serious defensive threat.
Webb is a clear cut starter and he appears to be healthy after his ACL tear last season. If he can return to his form from last year he will be back in the conversation as the leagues top corner (depending on how well Revis plays after suffering the same injury as Webb). Graham beat out Jimmy Smith for the other starting job, but Smith will be nipping at his heels all season and both guys will see plenty of time anyway so it doesn’t matter that much. Chykie Brown beat out all challengers for the third season in a row to stay on the active roster. Brown has been a solid player so it isn’t surprising that the Ravens coaches trust him enough to let him hold down the only backup spot they allotted by having just 4 corners. Matt Elam and Michael Huff will likely spend quite a bit of time playing corner as well. It wouldn’t be surprising at all for the Ravens to play in a lot of 3 safety sets because of the versatility of Huff and Elam. Webb and Smith can also play a little bit of safety so expect the Ravens defense to incorporate plenty of secondary trickery this season.
This was the biggest surprise of the Ravens roster cuts. UDFA Brynden Trawick made the roster over Omar Brown and several other contenders. I mean, admit it, until he blocked that punt a few weeks ago, you had never even heard of the guy (unless maybe if you are a Troy fan). Trawick will primarily play special teams, but his prototype size and excellent speed means he could develop into a pretty good player. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see Omar Brown back on the roster at some point, he is currently on the practice squad.
Ihedigbo is listed as the starter, but Elam is going to get a lot of minutes and probably take over as a starter before the season is over. In fact, I would expect to see him take over by the bye week. I’m of the belief that Ihedigbo is starting week one so Elam doesn’t get thrown to the wolves against Peyton Manning in his first NFL game. Elam could start as early as week 2. Levine is a decent young prospect, but he should be considered a special teams only player at this point. It is doubtful he will log any meaningful snaps this year.
Nothing much to say here. Cox and Koch have been Ravens staples for years and Tucker played at a probowl level last year. They are all back as expected.