The preseason is all about evaluations, as coaches are looking for players to emerge for roster spots and starting jobs.
With three preseason games in the books, most of the position battles have already been decided and there are likely only a few roster spots still up for grabs.
So who’s been most impressive during this preseason?
The statistical analysis website Pro Football Focus (PFF) has graded every snap of the preseason to come up with grades for every player on the roster. Overall, the defense has been the better of the two units with 26 players earning positive grades. The offense has 15 players with positive grades.
Here’s a closer look at the players who have shined:
Linebacker Daryl Smith
The veteran linebacker signed with the Ravens this offseason after spending the first nine years of his career in Jacksonville. Since coming to Baltimore, Smith has won a starting inside linebacker job and drawn high praise from his teammates and coaches. He’s been all over the field, and is the team’s highest-rated position player with a PFF score of 6.2. In his 74 snaps, Smith has excelled across the board. He’s earned positive marks in run defense ( 2.9), pass rush ( 2.0) and pass coverage ( 1.3). Smith has proven he’s more than just a run stuffer, accounting for one sack and two additional quarterback hurries. Stepping into Ray Lewis’ shoes is no easy task, but Smith’s performance so far has shown he’s up to the challenge.
Defensive Tackle Arthur Jones
The fourth-year defender has taken over as the starting defensive tackle on the line, and he’s been the team’s best run stuffer. Playing next to Pro Bowler
Nose Tackle Terrence Cody
The former second-round pick came into this year needing to have a strong training camp and preseason, and that’s exactly what he’s done. Cody has worked behind Ngata at nose tackle, and also been used in some run-heavy formations. Cody earned a 5.4 overall grade in his 64 snaps. The 340-pound lineman has been dominant against the run, gobbling up blockers to earn a 4.4 grade in run defense. He’s not known as a pass rusher, but he has generated some pressure and forced two quarterback hurries.
Top Offensive Players
Left Tackle Bryant McKinnie
The veteran offensive lineman re-signed with the Ravens this offseason and has been stellar during the preseason. He’s started all three games and earned the highest mark on offense with an overall grade of 3.7. McKinnie is known as a premiere pass blocker, but he’s been clearing holes for the running game during his reps. McKinnie scored a 2.1 mark in run blocking, compared to 0.9 in pass blocking. The Ravens are counting on McKinnie as a stable presence on the left side of the line, and his preseason indicates he’s playing at a high level heading into his 12th NFL season.
Right Guard Marshal Yanda
The Pro Bowl right guard returned to the lineup for the first time last week against the Carolina Panthers. It’s a limited sample size for Yanda, who has played just 20 snaps in the preseason, but he impressed during those reps. Yanda has a 2.6 grade, the second-highest on offense. Yanda helped pave the way for a scoring drive on the offense’s first drive of the game against the Panthers, and he cleared big running lanes for
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor
The second-string quarterback has put forth a strong showing during his reps in the preseason, earning a grade of 2.2 from PFF. Taylor is known as a dual-threat quarterback with breakaway speed, and he’s earned high marks for his impact on the running game. Taylor has a 1.9 grade for his rushing plays, compared to 0.1 in the passing game. Taylor’s best game of the preseason was against Tampa Bay where he threw for 154 yards and two touchdowns. There’s certainly no quarterback controversy in Baltimore, but Taylor is showing that he could step into a larger role if
The second-year kicker has the highest grade of any player on the roster, earning a 10.7 score from PFF. He’s made all three of his field-goal attempts, including a long of 57 yards. Tucker leads the NFL with eight touchbacks through three games, and he can regularly boot balls out of the back of the end zone.