53-Man Roster Prediction Season is Officially Underway
A fun exercise for media members and fans alike during the preseason is predicting the Ravens’ final 53-man roster. The debates that arise from these predictions are always impassioned, as everyone is sure their attempt at being Ozzie Newsome is better than others.
Baltimore Beatdown’s Logan Levy weighed in with his predictions, and made a few bold decisions on who the Ravens should and should not keep.
Ravens keep two quarterbacks: Levy believes the Ravens will only keep Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson, leaving Robert Griffin III off the roster. As he notes, “Griffin III will not make this decision easy for Baltimore as he has strung together a solid preseason thus far, but the Ravens cannot afford to keep a third quarterback on the 53-man roster.”
This topic has been a fervent one for those who follow the team, so much so that Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler laid out the arguments for both sides. The argument for why Griffin III should not be kept falls in line with Levy’s reasoning -- there simply isn’t enough room on the roster for three quarterbacks.
Schisler’s defense of keeping Griffin III starts with pointing out that “he doesn’t deserve to be cut,” and that the “benefit of keeping Griffin III, outweighs the cost.”
“Griffin III has played well in the preseason,” Schisler wrote. “He has been efficient and he hasn’t made mistakes. Steady play from an experienced player sounds alright for a backup.”
Gus Edwards wins third running back spot: Levy is firmly on the Gus Edwards Hype Train that left the station this past Thursday night.
Edwards did well against the Rams, rushing for 58 yards on 12 attempts. His showing, combined with Kenneth Dixon’s health issues, has turned what many felt was an easy roster decision into a competition.
“Dixon is on the roster bubble at this point, and he has a ton to prove,” Levy wrote.
It’s understandable where Levy is coming from, and if Dixon is unable to stay healthy that will open the door for someone like Edwards to make the team. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that Dixon was excellent as a rookie two seasons ago, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
File this one under the “Wait and See” category. Dixon hasn’t gotten to play in a preseason game yet, but he has returned to practice. If his health continues to be an issue, then someone like Edwards could take the final running back spot. Dixon has a good chance of making the team.
Seven wide receivers make it, but not Breshad Perriman: Levy has the Ravens keeping rookie draft picks Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley, as well as Tim White. He admits it was tricky finding a way for the Ravens to keep seven receivers, but that “White is set to be the team’s primary returner, which could force Baltimore’s hand.”
That leaves Breshad Perriman off the roster, though Levy isn’t totally discounting the former first-round pick will make the team. He rather says “he has more to prove.” Perriman helped his case against the Rams by finishing with a touchdown and a game-high 71 receiving yards. If he continues to perform like that in the preseason, he’ll have a strong case to make the 53-man roster.
As The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer pointed out, injuries have long been an issue with Perriman’s development. The game against the Rams was just his third career preseason game, leading Shaffer to write “if his showing Thursday pointed to the importance of good health in July and August, it is the timing of those injuries that have been especially devastating.”
Zach Sieler named among defensive linemen: Levy predicts Zach Sieler, a seventh-round selection in this year’s draft from Ferris State, will make the roster. After Sieler’s strong showing against the Rams, Baltimore Beatdown’s Kyle Barber also thinks the rookie is doing enough to make the team.
“Took matters into his own hands and blew through the line for a big-time sack,” Barber wrote. “I feel he’s now on the inside looking out. He has a real chance of making the final roster and I hope the team does keep him. The potential and motor is there.”
Levy has Carl Davis and Bronson Kaufusi as the marquee defensive linemen not making the roster. Davis was a 2015 third-round pick who started nine games last year. Kaufusi was a 2016 third-round pick who has played in three games in two years.
Albert McClellan left out of linebacking group: Levy has the Ravens parting ways with veteran linebacker and special teams contributor Albert McClellan.
“The Ravens have plenty of other players who can take his role on special teams,” Levy wrote.
This is one of the bolder predictions considering the Ravens value special teams highly, and McClellan is one of the unquestioned leaders of that group.
“He and defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. are now an extension of Rosburg and his assistant, Chris Horton, working with the younger players to uphold the Ravens’ high standard on special teams,” The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec wrote.
Fans who want to give predicting the 53-man roster a shot should enter our “You Pick the Team” contest. The first person who predicts the 53-man team that most closely resembles the Ravens' Sept. 1 roster will win two tickets to the season-opener versus the Buffalo Bills, two sideline passes and an autographed Hayden Hurst jersey.
Battles for Starting Spots are Heating Up
There’s plenty of interesting competitions happening at the top of the depth chart, too.
While some starting spots have been locked up, others look like they may not be settled until the end of preseason. PennLive’s Aaron Kasinitz highlighted the battles for starting spots that he’ll be watching closely.
Right tackle: This competition has heated up recently because of how well rookie third-round selection Orlando Brown Jr. has done during preseason games. After not allowing a single pressure in 57 snaps, he was the lone Ravens player on offense to make Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner’s Preseason Week 1 NFL Team of the Week.
“He added in an impressive 82.7 run-blocking grade for a complete day at the office,” Renner wrote.
Brown Jr.’s competition is veteran James Hurst, who the Ravens re-signed this offseason to a four-year deal. Head Coach John Harbaugh believes Hurst “has the inside track” for the job, but many media members think Hurst could be used better elsewhere along the line because of his versatility.
Schisler weighed in on the battle, and expects to see Brown Jr. eventually win the starting job.
“It looks like Orlando Brown Jr. will be the starting right tackle,” Schisler wrote. “In two preseason games Brown Jr. has given the Ravens every reason to trust him on the right side.”
Kick/Punt returner: Kasinitz sees this as a four-way battle between wide receivers Chris Moore, Willie Snead IV, Janarion Grant and White. To Kasinitz, the key factor in this discussion will be if the Ravens want to use an extra roster spot on a return specialist.
“If they do, then they'll probably pick between Grant and White,” Kasinitz wrote. “I'd peg White as the frontrunner here (and he has some offensive ability, too) but Grant returned every punt in Thursday's preseason game because White was sidelined with an ankle injury.”
Not only did Grant return every punt this past Thursday, but Pro Football Focus rated him among Baltimore’s top contributors offensively.
Cornerback: Kasinitz sees this battle between Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey as one that hasn’t been in the forefront because of Jimmy Smith.
“With Smith easing into action because of last season's Achilles injury and the Ravens shuffling around personnel in the secondary, this competition hasn't really materialized yet,” Kasinitz wrote.
This matchup may be a true toss-up. Carr has been reliable throughout his career at a position where many struggle to stay healthy. He also has a 160-game starting streak, which is the second longest in the league behind Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
Humphrey has loads of talent though, and got better the more games he played during his rookie season. Pro Football Focus is giving him the edge to win the starting job, though it also points out that the Ravens will be in great shape regardless of whoever comes out on top.
Check out all the position battles Kasinitz highlighted here.
Redraft of 2008 NFL Draft Has Joe Flacco Becoming an Oakland Raider
Joe Flacco should’ve been drafted fourth overall in the 2008 draft rather than 18th, according to The Ringer’s Danny Kelly.
Kelly redrafted the 2008 NFL Draft based off the subsequent careers of the players selected. As Kelly theorizes, “how different would it look if teams could take a mulligan and, knowing what we know now, do it all over?”
Kelly has Flacco going to the Oakland Raiders.
“Flacco’s an upgrade at the most important position in sports, not only over then-starter JaMarcus Russell (who’d be done in Oakland by the end of the 2009 season), but also the never-ending turnstile of signal-callers that came after him until the Raiders drafted Derek Carr in 2014,” Kelly wrote.
With Flacco off the board, Kelly has Baltimore selecting offensive tackle Brandon Albert, a Glen Burnie High School alum.
Looking back on the past 10 years with Flacco under center, surely every Ravens fan is thankful that scenario didn’t play out.
Lamar Jackson Has Tools to Be Successful in NFL, Says Eric Dickerson
You can add NFL Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson to the Lamar Jackson fan club.
Dickerson discussed Jackson during an interview on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, and was very complimentary of Baltimore’s first round draft choice.
“He’s a very dedicated young man and comes in early,” Dickerson said. “That says a lot. If you put work into your craft, it’s going to show on the field.”
Cowherd is more skeptical when it comes to Jackson’s chances in the NFL, wanting to see more from him as a passer. Jackson has completed 11 of 28 passing attempts so far this preseason.
Dickerson thinks Jackson can improve his accuracy. As he points out, “He’s a young quarterback, and I’m sure this is overwhelming for him. Everything happens at a different speed in the NFL.
“You can work on certain things. If you don’t have the knowledge or the know how to process a defense when you walk to the line of scrimmage and know what you are looking at, then there’s a problem. He has the athleticism.”
- Alex Collins was named the “Ravens’ engine” by NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks. “The hard-nosed runner excels at finding cracks between the tackles and exhibits the finishing power to punish defenders on the second level,” Brooks wrote. “With the Ravens at their best when using a run-centric approach, the team's surprising RB1 is the most important piece of the offensive puzzle.”
- Check out Zrebiec’s story about Nico Siragusa’s intense rehabbing after tearing three ligaments in his left knee.