10 Ravens Whose Roster Position Could Change
After the Ravens' first losing season in eight years, Ozzie Newsome has orchestrated a substantial roster shakeup this offseason to get the organization back on track.
When you add in Monday's three signings, a total of 31 players on the 90-man roster weren't on the team last year, according to The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. The hope is that those changes will transform last year's 5-11 squad back into a playoff contender.
But the modifications aren't over yet.
All that new blood is bound to affect the roster status of some of the holdovers, and Zrebiec lays out 10 players whose role could still potentially change:
1) CB Kyle Arrington
New arrivals: Tavon Young (fourth round), Maurice Canady (sixth round) and *veteran Jerraud Powers. *Plus, Will Davis is returning from a season-ending knee injury.
Zrebiec: "Young, Powers and Will Davis all can play the slot, which is where Arrington is at his best. Arrington is better than what he showed last year, and he'll have to prove that in the preseason to make the team."
2) WR Michael CampanaroNew arrivals: Keenan Reynolds (sixth round) and veteran Mike Wallace. Plus, Breshad Perriman is returning from a season-ending knee injury.
Zrebiec: "Reynolds was immediately viewed as a major threat to Campanaro's status. … [He] cannot afford nagging summer injuries, not as one of seven receivers competing for only two or three spots."
3) OT James Hurst
New arrivals: Ronnie Stanley (first round) and Alex Lewis (fourth round)
Zrebiec: "A starter of 13 games over the past two seasons, Hurst is better suited as a swing tackle or reserve guard. However, he'll have plenty of competition for that role."
4) FS Kendrick Lewis
*New arrivals: Pro Bowler Eric Weddle and Lardarius Webb transitioning from cornerback
*Zrebiec: "Webb has had some injury issues and nobody knows how his transition to a new position will go, so Lewis' roster spot looks safe. However, he might have to accept a significantly reduced role."
5) OT Eugene Monroe
New arrivals: Stanley and Lewis
Zrebiec: "It's been about 2 ½ weeks since the Ravens selected Stanley with the sixth overall pick, and Monroe remains on the roster. Team officials have said the oft-injured veteran will get an opportunity to compete with Stanley for the starting left tackle job in training camp and the best five linemen will play."* *
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
New arrivals: Kenneth Dixon (fourth round) and veteran Trent Richardson
Zrebiec: "Taliaferro has shown flashes of being a potentially impactful back the past two seasons, but injuries have marred his progress. … The Ravens traditionally keep only three running backs …"
DE Brent Urban
New arrivals: Bronson Kaufusi (third round)
Zrebiec: "Urban's goal will be to just get through training camp healthy. However, when the Ravens declined the option on veteran Chris Canty, it appeared Urban would slide into a starting role. That still might happen, but the Ravens still have Lawrence Guy and [Kaufusi]."
TE/WR Darren Waller
*New arrivals: Receivers Reynolds and Wallace, and tight end Benjamin Watson
*Zrebiec: "The Ravens' depth chart at tight end is stacked and there's not a whole lot of room at wide receiver either, if the team decides to move Waller back. Waller was very good on special teams last year and that carries a lot of weight."
RB Terrance West
New arrivals: Dixon and Richardson
Zrebiec: "This is not by West's doing. By all accounts, the former Towson star has been a diligent worker this offseason and he'll enter training camp in the best shape of his career. … If the Ravens take four running backs on the regular season-opening roster – and they haven't done that in the recent past – West would be the favorite for that final spot."
TE Maxx Williams
New arrivals: Watson
"The Ravens still have high hopes for Williams … he will have a lot of competition for targets with Benjamin Watson now on the roster and Dennis Pitta potentially returning."
NFL To Investigate Ravens For Wearing Full Pads For 5 Minutes
The NFL will investigate the Ravens for using full pads at recent rookie minicamp practice, which is a violation of the collective bargaining agreement, according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
A Ravens official, who was unaware of an investigation, told Hensley that the team used pads for a brief five-minute period during a non-contact punt drill. But they immediately removed the pads once NFLPA union representative Benjamin Watson clarified that the same rules for OTAs apply to rookie camp.
All practices are taped, per the Ravens official, so if an investigation is launched, everything can be immediately verified.
"Teams are not allowed to suit up in full pads until training camp," wrote Hensley. "For an investigation to begin, a player has to report a violation to the union or league."
Kenneth Dixon Could Be The Steal Of Ravens' Draft
Running back Kenneth Dixon could prove to be the biggest steal of the Ravens' draft, says Hensley, both because he provides great value in the fourth round and because the team may have found the back that best fits Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman's system.
Remember, it was under Trestman's play calling two years ago that Chicago's Matt Forte hauled in a whopping 102 passes, an NFL record for running backs. Meanwhile, Dixon was the best pass-catching running back in this year's draft, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), notching 88 career receptions. He forced 16 missed tackles on 35 receptions, the best mark in the class, and ranked No. 2 in PFF's elusive rating.
"You can envision Dixon getting a lot of passes in screens and also in the flats," said Hensley. "Dixon also has the ability to line up in the slot and run routes down field."
Dixon is also a scoring machine. His 87 touchdowns rank second in NCAA history (Reynolds broke the record just days later), and he holds the lead for scoring a touchdown in 38 straight games.
You don't hear too much fantasy buzz for Ravens offensive players, but it's already picking up for Dixon.
"If I had to choose a rookie running back not named Ezekiel Elliott to finish in the top 10, Dixon would be my pick," wrote Matt Barkman of Major League Fantasy Sports. "He was insanely productive at Louisiana Tech. … Dixon fits the mold of a three-down back and was regarded by some as the best pass catcher at the position. This is music to Marc Trestman's ears."
Left Guard Suddenly Has Plenty Of Options
I have absolutely no idea who is going to be the Ravens' left guard this season.
Nobody else does either.
After losing Kelechi Osemele to the Oakland Raiders during free agency, the Ravens have completely loaded up with tons of options. With the signing of offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse yesterday, there are five legitimate players that could win the job.
"So any conversation about the left-guard spot has to include [John] Urschel, [Ryan] Jensen, Lewis, Ducasse and Stanley," wrote Zrebiec. "Urschel remains the favorite to win the job, assuming Stanley replaces Monroe at left tackle. However, he'll now have plenty of competition.
"It didn't appear that would necessarily be the case four or five weeks ago."