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The Breakdown: Mink's Final 53-Man Roster Prediction

From left: LB Malik Harrison, LB Del'Shawn Phillips

Instead of five thoughts on the Ravens' 26-20 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, I offer my final 53-man roster prediction.

Roster cuts are due by Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

Quarterback (2): Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley

This is not an easy decision. Josh Johnson played better as training camp and the preseason progressed. He went 4-for-4 on the Ravens' opening offensive drive, including three straight dimes, capped by a 24-yard touchdown to Laquon Treadwell. As he's grown more comfortable in Todd Monken's offense, Johnson has operated it at a high level, and could be trusted to do so if called upon in the regular season.

Meanwhile, Huntley has been sidelined by a hamstring injury since the preseason opener and doesn't have as much of an advantage in an offense that will feature more passing and fewer quarterback runs. Still, he had outplayed Johnson before his injury, including in the preseason opener. Huntley has improved as a passer this offseason and is still a dangerous runner.

I expect the Ravens would love to keep the 37-year-old Johnson on their practice squad and call him up if needed. That would depend on how much interest the journeyman would get from other teams around the league. If something were to happen to Jackson, it's tough to say who Baltimore would feel more comfortable with being the starter.

Running back (4): J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Keaton Mitchell

This is one of the toughest roster decisions because of Mitchell. The Ravens don't need four running backs active on gamedays, at least offensively, and the undrafted rookie is in a similar mold to Hill as a speedster who can stretch the edges of a defense. Mitchell would have to be a special teams standout to be active.

However, Mitchell's explosiveness was on display the first two preseason games and he's been a practice standout. Releasing him opens the rookie up to waivers, where any other team could scoop him up for their 53-man roster. Trying to get him onto the practice squad is a risk. After leaving Monday night's second preseason game with a shoulder injury, Mitchell didn't dress for the finale.

Fullback (1): Patrick Ricard

Ricard won't play as many snaps as he did last year, but he's still an offensive hammer wherever he lines up. That will most likely often be as an in-line blocker as the Ravens look to replace the lost blocking muscle of tight ends Josh Oliver and Nick Boyle.

Tight end (3): Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely, Charlie Kolar

After missing almost all of his rookie season, Kolar has had a good training camp and preseason. The Ravens would probably like to get undrafted rookie Travis Vokolek, who flashed with two touchdowns against the Commanders on "Monday Night Football," on their practice squad. Vokolek caught one 5-yard pass in the finale.

Wide receiver (6): Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman, Zay Flowers, Nelson Agholor, Devin Duvernay, Tylan Wallace

It's the most loaded wide receiver corps in team history. The top five are easy calls and Wallace seemingly won a roster job with his strong play in the preseason as a pass catcher and his special teams prowess. Wallace caught touchdowns in each of the first two preseason games and had a couple nice grabs Saturday night.

Offensive line (9): Ronnie Stanley, John Simpson, Tyler Linderbaum, Kevin Zeitler, Morgan Moses, Patrick Mekari, Daniel Faalele, Sala Aumavae-Laulu, Sam Mustipher

The Ravens' starting offensive line is set with Simpson winning the left guard spot, as Head Coach John Harbaugh announced after Saturday's game. Aumavae-Laulu isn't ready to start yet, but the Ravens have high hopes for the sixth-round rookie and want to give him a chance to develop. The Ravens will also want him ready to play in case of injury, but Mekari could be the immediate backup guard at either position, in addition to the top backup at left tackle. That versatility is a big part of Mekari's value.

However, the Ravens probably don't also want to bank on Mekari as the backup center, a position he hasn't played in quite some time. The backup center the past two seasons, Trystan Colon, departed this offseason in free agency. Thus, Baltimore opts to keep the veteran Mustipher, who Harbaugh spoke highly of this week.

The toughest decision here is parting ways with Ben Cleveland, a third-round pick from 2021 who has started five games the past two seasons. If the Ravens believe Mekari can be their backup guard as Aumavae-Laulu continues to improve, they don't need Cleveland. Cleveland could be of interest to other teams around the league looking for offensive line depth, and he added to his value by playing both guard and tackle in the preseason.

Defensive line (4): Michael Pierce, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington, Travis Jones

This isn't what it appears to be. Veteran defensive end Brent Urban is going to be on the team, but the Ravens could release him and bring him back a day later. Since he's a vested veteran, Urban doesn't go through waivers and is free to re-sign after the Ravens place players (such as Damarion "Pepe" Williams) on injured reserve. Jadeveon Clowney is on the roster as a defensive end, but I'm listing him at outside linebacker for these purposes.

Inside linebacker (4): Roquan Smith, Patrick Queen, Trenton Simpson, Malik Harrison

Only four inside linebackers is a little light, especially for a team that prides itself on strong special teams play. The Ravens had five inside linebackers make the initial 53-man roster last year, when Del'Shawn Phillips and Kristian Welch were both key special teamers. Phillips has had a good camp and preseason, including as a defender. It could be between keeping Phillips primarily for special teams, and a fourth running back. Also, if the Ravens put multiple players on IR/PUP or go with just three running backs, a spot opens up for Phillips, who is another vested veteran.

Outside linebacker (5): Odafe Oweh, David Ojabo, Tyus Bowser, Jadeveon Clowney, Tavius Robinson

Bowser is a question mark because he missed all of training camp and the preseason with an "agitated knee." A couple weeks ago, however, Harbaugh said he expects Bowser will be ready for Week 1. Asked Saturday about whether Bowser will be activated from the PUP list this week, Harbaugh gave no indication. At this point, Bowser would only have two weeks to get ready. But if he starts on the PUP list, he is sidelined for the first four games, at a minimum. If Bowser starts on the PUP list, it opens a spot at a different position group.

Cornerback (8): Marlon Humphrey, Rock Ya-Sin, Ronald Darby, Brandon Stephens, Kevon Seymour, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Damarion "Pepe" Williams, Kyu Kelly

Humphrey's timetable is unknown, but he shouldn't be out too long if he misses regular-season action. With him out, Ya-Sin and either Darby, Stephens, or Seymour are the projected starters outside. Seymour won a roster spot with his strong camp and preseason. After dealing with injuries, Armour-Davis finally got some preseason action in Tampa and had an uneven night. The talented second-year cornerback needs more consistent practice time to sharpen his tools.

Williams will head to injured reserve after having ankle surgery, which will sideline him at least into October, but needs to start on the 53-man roster before being moved. Kelly had ups and downs during preseason action, but it's tough to imagine the Ravens parting ways with a fifth-round rookie with promise, especially at a position where they need the depth. Veteran Arthur Maulet didn't play Saturday in Tampa, but would be somebody that would be good to keep for additional depth at nickel.

Safety (4): Marcus Williams, Kyle Hamilton, Geno Stone, Ar'Darius Washington

Washington earned a roster spot with his strong play in the preseason and training camp practices. The Ravens' nickel cornerback spot may be based primarily on matchups, and Washington seems to have carved out a role. Stephens can also double as a safety.

Specialists (3): Justin Tucker, Jordan Stout, Tyler Ott

No debate here, as Ott has stepped in seamlessly after Nick Moore's season-ending injury.

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