Early Look at Ravens Offensive Depth Chart and Roster Battles
With the NFL Draft and most free-agency moves complete, we have a general framework for the Ravens roster. The competition portion of the offseason is upon us, with OTAs starting in two weeks, followed by minicamp and training camp.
Before roster battles truly heat up, ESPN and The Baltimore Sun offered* *their projected Ravens depth charts. ESPN designated starters and the number of players it predicts Baltimore will keep at each position. Meanwhile, Baltimore Beatdown previewed the roster competitions with projected locks, bubble players and long shots. I've combined the three below and added a comment for each position.
We'll do offense today and follow up with defense* *tomorrow.
Quarterback (3): Joe Flacco (starter), Lamar Jackson (lock), Robert Griffin III III (bubble), Josh Woodrum (long shot)
The Ravens will be tempted to buck their usual trend and keep three quarterbacks instead of two on their 53-man roster. Even if RGIII impresses this summer, his roster spot could depend more on how quickly Jackson acclimates to the NFL. Flacco is the 11-year veteran, Super Bowl-winning leader and clear starter. "If the plan is to get Jackson onto the field in different ways, you'd think it would be worth it to keep Griffin around as well," wrote The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
Running back (4): Alex Collins (starter), Buck Allen (lock), Kenneth Dixon (lock), Patrick Ricard (lock), Gus Edwards (long shot), De'Lance Turner (n/a, predictions given before singed), Mark Thompson (n/a), Christopher Ezeala (n/a)
The veterans of this group improved their chances of holding onto their jobs from last year when the Ravens didn't add a running back via the draft. Collins won the starting role last year and is expected to keep it barring any injuries. Dixon's return from injury spices things up as he'll compete for a larger role. Ricard is the starting fullback, but he may not be a lock as suggested because Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams can both block too. The others are rookie free-agent additions who look to pull off a coup.
Wide receiver (7): Michael Crabtree (starter), John Brown (starter), Willie Snead (lock), Chris Moore (lock), Breshad Perriman (bubble), Jaleel Scott (bubble), Jordan Lasley (bubble), DeVier Posey (long shot), Tim White (lock), Quincy Adeboyejo (bubble), Jaelon Acklin (long shot), Andre Levrone (long shot), Janarion Grant (long shot)
This is a massively changed unit with nine new receivers. I'm not sure I'd agree with Baltimore Beatdown's "lock" designation for White, but he's got a good shot as the current favorite to win the punt returner role. There's more competition with two new draft picks (Scott and Lasley) and the Ravens aren't in the habit of cutting mid-round draft selections before their rookie season begins. This is a make-or-break summer for Perriman. Grant was added to the 90-man roster yesterday after a tryout during rookie minicamp (see more below on him).
Tight end (5): Hayden Hurst (starter), Nick Boyle (starter), Mark Andrews (lock), Maxx Williams (bubble), Vince Mayle (bubble), Nick Keizer (n/a)
This group also changed quite a bit with first- and third-round draft picks used on Hurst and Andrews, respectively. Last year's veteran leader Benjamin Watson is gone, leaving a starting role wide open along with plenty of passing targets up for grabs. The Ravens kept four tight ends last year, and could find room for four again, especially if they don't keep a true fullback. The Ravens use a lot of two-tight end sets, so they need plenty of bodies. My guess is Williams makes the cut. Mayle's path will be through special teams again.
Tackle (4): Ronnie Stanley (starter), Orlando Brown (starter), James Hurst (lock), Greg Senat (bubble), Andrew Donnal (long shot)
This is Hurst's starting job to lose, but even if Brown gets himself into NFL shape and proves ready for the job, Hurst could still be a starter at left guard with Alex Lewis moved to center. The Ravens' priority is to get the five best offensive linemen on the field. There are plenty of possibilities and a long summer to figure it all out.
Guard (4): Marshal Yanda (starter), Alex Lewis (starter), Nico Siragusa (bubble), Jermaine Eluemunor (bubble), Randin Crecelius (n/a), Maurquice Shakir (n/a), Justin Evans (n/a)
Yanda is the unquestioned leader and is one of best offensive linemen in the entire NFL. Lewis is penciled in as the starting left guard, but that change based on the development of Matt Skura at center and what happens with the right tackle competition. "Lewis is versatile enough to play a couple of different spots, but the Ravens believe he projects best at guard, where he can grow alongside Stanley," wrote Zrebiec. Siragusa will essentially have his rookie year after suffering a season-ending knee injury last training camp.
Center (2): Matt Skura (starter), Bradley Bozeman (bubble), Alex Thompson (n/a)
Skura started 12 games at guard last year, but after Ryan Jensen left and became the NFL's highest-paid center in March, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Skura would be the starter. Harbaugh cautioned that could change, however, and the addition of Brown could shake things up. A sixth-round pick out of Alabama, Bozeman will also challenge for the starting job.
Rutgers' Janarion Grant Brings Intriguing Potential as Returner
After getting a look at him over the weekend at rookie minicamp, the Ravens decided to sign Rutgers wide receiver Janarion Grant to the 90-man roster, and he's hoping it will turn into even more.
"Grant's chances to make the team likely hinge on special teams contributions; he was a prolific return man at Rutgers," wrote Zrebiec.
Indeed, he was.
Grant tallied five kickoff return touchdowns and three punt return* *scores during his five college seasons. He averaged 24.8 yards per kick return and 11.3 per punt return.
Check out his impressive handiwork ...
Which Rookie QB Will Have Best Career? Ravens Need to Do Better Job of Building Around Jackson
ESPN asked fans which quarterback drafted in April will eventually have the best NFL career. Below are the results after 103,461 votes:
Mason Rudolph (Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 76 overall): 20 percent
Sam Darnold (New York Jets, No. 3): 20 percent
Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns, No. 1): 17 percent
Josh Rosen (Arizona Cardinals, No. 10): 16 percent
Lamar Jackson (Ravens, No. 32): 15 percent
Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills, No. 7): 12 percent
The Jackson era isn't expected to really begin for another year or two, but for him to truly succeed WNST's Luke Jones argues:
"I sure hope the Ravens do a better job building an offense around Lamar Jackson than they did for Joe Flacco after he won them a Super Bowl," he wrote.