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Late for Work 8/30: Comparing Pundits' 53-Man Ravens Roster Projections

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Comparing Pundits' 53-Man Ravens Roster Projections

The deadline for the Ravens to send in their 53-man roster is Saturday at 4 P.M. Until then, there will be a lot of analysis and guesses as to who will comprise Baltimore's roster this season.

We've pulled together six separate lists and compared them to each other. The projections were put out by ESPN, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec, PressBox's Bo Smolka, Baltimore Beatdown's Logan Levy, RavensWire's Matthew Stevens and 105.7 The Fan's Joe Schiller.

Quarterback

Locks: Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson

Bubble: Robert Griffin III

Longshot: Josh Woodrum

Griffin may be the most difficult decision to make. ESPN has him making the team, writing, "It's no time to gamble at quarterback after the Ravens have failed to reach the playoffs for three straight years."

On the flip side, Smolka points out that giving him a spot could prevent the Ravens from "keeping a player who could contribute significantly on special teams."

Only ESPN and Stevens have Griffin on the team, while the other four have him off.

Running Back

Locks: Alex Collins, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Patrick Ricard (fullback)

Longshots: Gus Edwards, Mark Thompson, De'Lance Turner, Christopher Ezeala (fullback)

There's no debate here as all six analysts agree on the three running backs, as well as Ricard, who is also a defensive lineman, making the team.

Wide Receiver

Locks: Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead IV, Chris Moore, Jordan Lasley

Bubble: Janarion Grant, Breshad Perriman, Tim White

Longshots: Andre Levrone, DeVier Posey

The first four names on the locks list aren't surprising, but the fifth one might be. Lasley makes lock status after getting named to the 53-man roster in all six projections. Zrebiec noted, "Given their struggles in developing pass catchers, the Ravens can't afford to jettison a young and talented receiver this soon."

Next in terms of votes is Grant with five. He has the lead in the return specialist battle with White, according to the pundits. Stevens wrote, "He's constantly fought for extra yards, whether at wide receiver or as a punt returner."

White did not receive a vote in any of the six projections, but he's still on the bubble since the return specialist battle is far from over. As Smolka pointed out, "White could yet seize that with a strong game against the Redskins."

It should also be noted that Levy didn't have Grant or White making the team, writing "The returner competition has been overhyped as Chris Moore is a serviceable return man."

Finally, Perriman is on the bubble after getting votes from Stevens and Levy. The former first-round pick makes the team in Stevens' opinion because "the guy is 6-foot-3 and runs a 4.24-second 40-yard dash and that simply cannot be taught."

Tight End

Locks: Hayden Hurst, Nick Boyle, Mark Andrews, Maxx Williams

Longshots: Darren Waller, Vince Mayle, Nick Keizer

Another position group where all six analysts completely agree. According to Zrebiec, the key to that happening was the foot injury to Hurst, which "seemingly took Williams off the bubble."

Offensive Line

Locks: Ronnie Stanley, Alex Lewis, Matt Skura, Marshal Yanda, Orlando Brown Jr., James Hurst

Bubble: Bradley Bozeman, Jermaine Eluemunor, Nico Siragusa

Longshots: Maurquice Shakir, Randin Crecilius, Cameron Lee, Justin Evans, Andrew Donnal,

This might be the toughest group to predict because the Ravens could add a veteran through a trade to take one of the reserve spots.

Bozeman and Eluemunor appear to be the closest to making the team after both received five votes. Bozeman, a rookie sixth-round pick, has come on strong in recent weeks, while Eluemunor "gets the nod because of his versatility," according to Zrebiec.

After those two, Siragusa makes the team in three of the projections, putting him firmly on the bubble. According to ESPN, which didn't have him making the team, Siragusa "needs another year to rebound from a knee injury."

Defensive Line

Locks: Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Willie Henry, Brent Urban

Bubble: Chris Wormley, Zach Sieler, Carl Davis

Longhsots: Bronson Kaufusi, Christian LaCouture

This group is close to set, with Ricard also expected to get plenty of reps in 2018.

While Wormley and Sieler are both listed as on the bubble, each got five votes. Wormley, a third-round pick from a year ago, registered his first NFL sack against Miami last Saturday. Sieler, a seventh-round rookie, has shown his potential since training camp, and has been a favorite to make the team amongst pundits all summer.

The big question appears to be if Davis makes the team. Zrebiec and Stevens both have him making it, while the other four don't. Stevens believes Davis gets included because of his "experience and versatility." Davis was named by multiple pundits as potential trade bait.

Kaufusi, a third-round selection in 2016, was not named to the 53-man roster in any of the projections.

Inside Linebacker

Locks: C.J. Mosley, Patrick Onwuasor, Kenny Young

Bubble: Chris Board, Albert McClellan

Longshot: Alvin Jones

Most pundits are viewing this as a competition between Board and McClellan for the final inside linebacker spot. Only Smolka has both making it.

Board has the edge, according to our pundits, after getting five votes. "In Board, an undrafted rookie out of North Dakota State, the Ravens have a young, cheap and fast linebacker that they can develop," Zrebiec wrote.

Stevens joins Smolka in selecting McClellan. A special teams ace, McClellan "gets the final spot because he knows the scheme well, the coaching staff likes him and he plays on special teams," according to Stevens. Others think McClellan will miss out because he's 32, missed last season because of a major knee injury, and is due to make $1.25 million in 2018, according to Spotrac.

Outside Linebacker

Locks: Terrell Suggs, Matthew Judon, Tim Williams, Za'Darius Smith, Tyus Bowser

Longshot: Myles Humphrey

Trading Kamalei Correa made this group easier to predict. The pundits agreed on the five that should make the team.

Cornerback

Locks: Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Tavon Young, Maurice Canady, Anthony Averett, Stanley Jean-Baptiste

Longshot: Darious Williams, Jackson Porter

Reserve/Suspended: Jimmy Smith

Another group the pundits agree on. Smith's four-game suspension took Jean-Baptiste from being a longshot to being a lock. It isn't just because of Smith's suspension that he makes the team though, as Schiller wrote that the Ravens are "riding the hot hand with Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who's had a standout preseason."

Safeties

Locks: Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Chuck Clark, Anthony Levine Sr.

Longshot: Kai Nacua, Bennett Jackson, Robertson Daniel

This group became easier to predict after rookie DeShon Elliott suffered a forearm injury against Miami which could cost him the entire 2018 season. Each pundit predicted this four to make the team, though Zrebiec thinks there's a chance it won't play out that way.

"If the decision makers feel like carrying five safeties is a must, Nacua would be the obvious choice," Zrebiec wrote.

Specialists

Locks: Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox

Longshot: Kaare Vedvik, Trent Sieg

The easiest group to predict. Even though Vedvik has been excellent this summer he isn't expected to beat out Tucker or Koch.

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.

Joe Flacco Named as One of NFL's Most Fascinating People

ESPN's Bill Barnwell's compiled a list of "Most Fascinating People" for the upcoming NFL season, and quarterback Joe Flacco was named in the "Now or Never" section.

"If a productive preseason is a sign that Flacco is responding to the challenge of first-round pick Lamar Jackson, that's great," Barnwell wrote. "Just one question, though: What has he been waiting for?"

Indeed, the reason why Barnwell put Flacco on his list is because the Ravens drafted quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round this year, and he thinks it'll be fascinating to see how the 33-year-old responds to it on the field.

Flacco has been excellent throughout the offseason and appears set for a banner campaign in 2018. Pundits' reasons for that have varied from Flacco's much improved health to a revamped receiving corps, as well as the presence of Jackson.

"Opinions vary on just how much Jackson's selection has impacted Flacco, but it's human nature in any line of work to feel more urgency when the boss brings in a potential threat to your livelihood," WNST's Luke Jones wrote.

Whether it's actually the reason or not, there's no doubt that some pundits will point to Jackson being in Baltimore as a reason if Flacco does have a strong season.

Barnwell uses Flacco's stats to show his level of play since being named MVP of Super Bowl XLVII, including last season when he finished last in yards per attempted pass, 16th in interception rate and 15th in total QBR.

ESPN's commentator Scott Van Pelt also discussed Flacco's contract on the Scott Van Pelt Show during his "One Big Thing" segment.

In March of 2016, Flacco was the highest paid player in the NFL. Plenty of quarterbacks have held that title since then, and Van Pelt lists them as Alex Smith, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford, Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Ryan and, as of yesterday, Aaron Rodgers.

Van Pelt compares Flacco to the other quarterbacks that have signed massive contracts, and noted that he stacks up favorably against them in terms of accomplishments.

"What he is, and this is a fact not an opinion, is a Super Bowl winner," Van Pelt said. "His numbers that year on the way to the Super Bowl victory were sick. He had 11 touchdowns and no picks in four playoff games, including at Denver, at New England, and against San Francisco. The end. The rest of the group I just named, they have one Super Bowl win, and two Super Bowl appearances amongst them."

Ravens' Sneaky Strengths of 2017 Could be Better in 2018

ESPN's Aaron Schatz analyzed a couple strengths of each NFL team during 2017 that aren't common knowledge — one for offense and one for defense.

"Some of these splits are significant for illuminating the strengths and weaknesses of each team's personnel," Schatz wrote. "Other splits tend to oscillate wildly from year to year."

On offense, Schatz looked at Baltimore's offensive line, specifically in pass protection.

"Flacco was knocked to the ground on just 10.9 percent of pass plays, including those nullified by penalties," Schatz wrote. "This was the third-lowest figure in the league behind only those of Derek Carr and Jay Cutler."

Though the offensive line has gotten some negative focus recently, and could potentially see some new faces joining it soon, the main issue with the group has been its depth.

Assuming it can stay healthy, the first-team offensive line looks like it should improve from last season. In 2017, the Ravens lost center John Urschel to retirement and Lewis to a shoulder injury before the regular season even started. Yanda was lost for the year in Week 2 with a broken angle.

Though Yanda has not played in a preseason game yet, both he and Lewis will be ready to play Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, meaning the group should have more expected first stringers starting than it did for the majority of 2017.

"With the offensive line healthy and beginning to jell, they have no excuses to lean back on the potential to improve," PennLive's Aaron Kasinitz wrote.

On defense, Schatz looked at the Ravens' ability to defend the pass.

"The Ravens were the No. 1 defense in the league against short passes, defined as those up to 15 yards through the air," Schatz wrote. "Baltimore ranked first or second against short passes to the left, middle and right."

Cornerback Tavon Young being available to play should help continue this trend. As a rookie in 2016, Young started 11 games at outside cornerback and performed well, despite having the size and speed that's better suited for the slot.

He missed the entirety of the 2017 season after tearing his ACL during OTAs, but is healthy this season. More importantly, it looks like he'll line up in the slot this season, which should improve Baltimore's defense against passes that are less than 15 yards.

Quick Hits

  • Griffin is one of the most notable players on the bubble in the entire NFL, according to CBSSports' Joel Corry. "Griffin's comeback - after sitting out the 2017 season primarily due to a lack of interest from NFL teams - has been successful enough to make keeping three quarterbacks a serious consideration."
  • Fantasy Football players: don't sleep on wide receiver Michael Crabtree this season. Pro Football Focus' Walton Spurlin has Crabtree as the Raven that should have the best draft value this season. A projected sixth-round selection, "Crabtree has landed in Baltimore, giving Joe Flacco a prime red-zone target."
  • How do you determine draft stock and the positions that teams will be drafting in when both the NFL and college seasons haven't even started yet? No idea, but there's mock drafts for the 2019 NFL Draft already being published. Sporting News' Eric Galko has the Ravens taking Raekwon Davis, a defensive tackle from Alabama, with the No. 18 pick. "Davis fits what the Ravens need on defense: versatility and impact run defending to set up their pass-rushers."

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