Sizing up Ravens Roster With Locks, Bubble Players and Long Shots
Trying to predict the 53-man roster is a fun annual exercise, but what's unique to this year's Ravens roster is the high number of players who look like shoe-ins to make the team.
"I don't pretend to bat 1.000 on these Ravens roster projections by any means, but there appear to be fewer jobs up for grabs than in recent years," WNST's Luke Jones wrote. "That's a good thing."
With a large 12-man draft class, including seven selections in the first four rounds, and little turnover on the defense, there are more players considered to be safely on the roster.
Training camp will undoubtedly change this list, but here's how Jones sees the roster sizing up after the offseason program.
IN: Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson
BUBBLE: Robert Griffin III
LONG SHOT: Josh Woodrum
Running Backs & Fullbacks
IN: Alex Collins, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon
LONG SHOT: Gus Edwards, Mark Thompson, De'Lance Turner
ROSTER EXEMPTION: Christopher Ezeala
IN: Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead, Chris Moore, Jaleel Scott
BUBBLE: Jordan Lasley, Tim White, Breshad Perriman
LONG SHOT: Andre Levrone, Jaelon Acklin, Janarion Grant, DeVier Posey
PUP: Quincy Adeboyejo
IN: Hayden Hurst, Nick Boyle, Mark Andrews
BUBBLE: Maxx Williams, Vince Mayle
LONG SHOT: Nick Keizer
IN: Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Alex Lewis, Matt Skura, James Hurst, Orlando Brown Jr.
BUBBLE: Jermaine Eluemunor, Nico Siragusa, Greg Senat, Bradley Bozeman, Andrew Donnal
LONG SHOT: Maurquice Shakir, Randin Crecelius, Alex Thompson, Justin Evans
Reaction: The big decision on offense that will create a domino effect down the rest of the roster is whether the Ravens choose to keep three quarterbacks for the first time since 2009. Two could be sufficient because Jackson is arguably the best backup since Tyrod Taylor. The Ravens have rolled the dice on Matt Schaub and Ryan Mallett, so why not do so with the presumed future franchise QB? If Flacco is injured with a two-quarterback roster, Griffin could still be on the market for the Ravens to re-sign as Jackson's backup. No teams signed Griffin all last year.
In terms of Williams' chances, the Ravens kept four tight ends last year and it could be smart to do so again with two new rookies. Then again, it could also be a position to trim if they keep three quarterbacks. Tim White's route to the 53-man roster is through special teams, and if they keep him, that could mean Lasley or Scott goes to the practice squad, but it'd be a risk to leave a mid-round pick open for another team to sign to their active roster. As for Perriman and the offensive line battle …
"The Ravens don't give up on former first-rounders easily and didn't talk this spring as though they're ready to move on from Perriman despite the bonus he's owed early in camp," Jones wrote. "The battle for the final two or three line spots will be interesting with Eluemunor having the experience edge over other bubble players. Siragusa will need to prove he's fully recovered from last summer's serious knee injury while Senat and Bozeman are interesting developmental rookies."
IN: Brandon Williams, Willie Henry, Michael Pierce, Chris Wormley, Brent Urban, Carl Davis
BUBBLE: Zach Sieler, Patrick Ricard, Bronson Kaufusi
LONG SHOT: Myles Humphrey, Christian LaCouture
IN: C.J. Mosley, Patrick Onwuasor, Kenny Young
BUBBLE: Albert McClellan, Bam Bradley
LONG SHOT: Alvin Jones
IN: Terrell Suggs, Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, Za'Darius Smith, Tim Williams
BUBBLE: Kamalei Correa
LONG SHOT: Chris Board
IN: Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Tavon Young, Maurice Canady, Anthony Averett
BUBBLE: Jaylen Hill, Stanley Jean-Baptiste
LONG SHOT: Darious Williams, Jackson Porter, Bennett Jackson
IN: Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Chuck Clark, Anthony Levine
BUBBLE: DeShon Elliott
LONG SHOT: Kai Nacua
IN: Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox
LONG SHOT: Kaare Vedvik, Trent Sieg
Reaction: Ricard has a strong case to stick around because he contributes on both defense and offense as a fullback. Kaufusi needs to take a big step in Year 3 in order to beat out Sieler and bubble players at other positions. It's hard to see the Ravens parting ways with McClellan, a veteran leader on defense and special teams, as long as he's healthy, which he'll need to prove. Correa is moving back outside, but brings value because he can also play inside. With such a deep and established secondary, there isn't a lot of breathing room for Jaylen Hill (PUP candidate) and rookie DeShon Elliot, who impressed in Organized Team Activities and minicamp. One could argue that Canady is on the bubble instead of locked in, but he still has an inside track at a spot.
O.J. Brigance Writes 600-Word Op-Ed With His Eyes
O.J. Brigance, the Ravens' senior advisor to player engagement and Super Bowl XXXV champion, never ceases to amaze.
He wrote a 600-word op-ed piece for The Baltimore Sun using his eyes, which he says "are everything" to him as he continues to live with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The disease has taken away his ability to control voluntary muscle movement.
"I'm here to talk about living in spite of ALS, and to give you an inside glimpse at what life is like without the ability to move, to speak, to eat or to breathe independently," Brigance writes. "When I wake up, the first thing I see is a paid caregiver — or my beautiful wife, Chanda. There is no more waking up alone. Typically, Chanda or my caregiver asks me questions, and I indicate what is needed with blinks. One blink is 'No,' two blinks, 'Yes.' It's a slow process, getting up each morning without a voice and without the ability to move.
"My eyes are everything. They are my livelihood; they are communication with loved ones; they are safety; they are independence."
Take the time to read Brigance's story, especially if you're having a tough day. It'll make you grateful for the simple things of life, and maybe inspire you to follow Brigance's example of optimism and hard work.
Projecting Future First-Time Pro Bowler: Brandon Williams
NFL.com's Gil Brandt pinpointed one prime candidate from each team to earn his first Pro Bowl nod in 2018. It's hard to argue with his pick for the Ravens: defensive tackle Brandon Williams.
"Williams is strong, explosive and agile, very hard to block in the running game," wrote Brandt. "When he's healthy, Baltimore's defense plays a lot better. He's so good, in fact, that I'm surprised he hasn't already earned a Pro Bowl nod. Of course, he does play at a stacked position, with many stellar defensive tackles in the league today. But this year, I think he'll cut through the noise."
This would be an excellent development for Williams and the Ravens, who signed the six-year veteran to a five-year contract last season reportedly worth $52 million.
The Ravens' run defense suffered significantly last year when Williams was injured for four games. Overall, the unit didn't live up to the lofty Ravens' standards, surrendering the third-highest single-season rushing total in franchise history.
So far this offseason, new Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale has moved Williams to nose tackle, where he first developed a reputation as a dominant run stuffer. Perhaps improved health and a position change will be enough to make Brandt's Pro Bowl prediction for Williams come true.
What Will Be Ozzie Newsome's Best Offseason Move?
It may take a couple years to really know who is Ozzie Newsome's best acquisition in his final year as the Ravens general manager.
This comment from Baltimore Beatdown's Vasilis Lericos got me thinking about it: "Luring the reliable Snead away from the Saints with a two-year, $7 million contract may turn out to be Ozzie Newsome's best move this offseason."
Snead has generated a lot of buzz since signing with the Ravens in April. He's my pick to lead the Ravens in catches this season. People will inevitably compare Snead's season to Dez Bryant's (once he finally signs with someone) because the Ravens reportedly offered Bryant a contract, and after he turned it down, they signed Snead.
Other obvious candidates to become Newsome's best offseason move include rookies Lamar Jackson, Hayden Hurst and Orlando Brown Jr. There's also one of the other veteran wide receivers he signed in Michael Crabtree and John Brown. Or maybe it'll be an under-the-radar undrafted rookie, the re-signing of someone like Brent Urban, or a still-to-be-acquired player just before the season like running back Alex Collins was last year.
Tom Brady Insinuates He'll Play Until He's 45
I liked it better when we were talking about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady potentially retiring. Brady told Oprah on Sunday that the end was nearing.
"I think about it more than I used to," he said. "I think I'm seeing there's definitely an end coming, sooner rather than later."
Perhaps his definition of "near" is different from others'. Near could mean one year to opponents, but to Brady, it may mean five.
He insinuated in an ESPN Instagram post that he might keep playing until he's 45. He turns 41 on Aug. 3.
"Perhaps Brady's Instagram comment is his way of re-guiding the conversation after talk of his eventual retirement has taken on a different tone this offseason," wrote NFL.com's Kevin Patra. "Maybe he's just having fun, knowing the Boston media might see his post. Heck, maybe some social media manager went rogue and today Brady is dealing with fallout (this will surely be the script for a NCIS: Social Media in the future)."