The Ravens' 2022 roster cuts came with some surprises, at least to those making predictions.
Here are 10 takeaways from Baltimore's moves:
The Ravens kept 11 offensive linemen. That unit will certainly not be lacking for depth. Not only did Baltimore keep all three guards in Ben Powers, Ben Cleveland and Tyre Phillips, but the Ravens also kept an extra center in Trystan Colon. Injuries stressed the offensive line last year, which dramatically hampered the entire offense. This season, with so much young talent, the Ravens have extra reserves. Part of this might hinge on Ronnie Stanley. If he isn't ready to go Week 1, Ja'Wuan James is in line to be the starter, which would make Patrick Mekari the top swing tackle. If Mekari is playing tackle, however, that leaves Colon as a needed backup center.
In one of the most surprising moves, Baltimore released second-year outside linebacker Daelin Hayes with an injury designation. Hayes was one of the team's biggest standouts in minicamp and OTAs, but he didn't carry that momentum into training camp. The Ravens also let go of outside linebacker Steven Means and undrafted rookies Jeremiah Moon and Chuck Wiley. For now, the Ravens don't have a single SAM outside linebacker from their depth chart on the roster. Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston are the only outside linebackers on the team. Obviously, additions are coming.
The Ravens will presumably place rookies David Ojabo and Charlie Kolar on injured reserve tomorrow, which would open up two more spots. Two possible "handshake" deals with released vested veterans who don't need to clear waives would be reuniting with defensive end Brent Urban and Means. Urban is the Ravens' only other defensive end besides Calais Campbell. Means can play either RUSH or SAM linebacker, Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
Rookie sixth-round running back Tyler Badie got squeezed out, as there are reports that Baltimore will add veteran Kenyan Drake to round out the running back room. Badie registered 65 yards on 23 carries (2.8 yards/carry) in the preseason. He could bounce back to the practice squad if nobody claims him. If they do sign Drake, the Ravens will have two experienced (but not old) running backs backing up J.K. Dobbins with Davis and Drake, as well as speedy Justice Hill, who is also a special teams asset.
The Ravens love tight ends, and that was reflected in the roster decisions. Baltimore kept five tight ends, plus fullback Patrick Ricard. The Ravens retained Josh Oliver, in addition to Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Isaiah Likely and Kolar, who will likely soon go to IR. If the Ravens are going to lean on their tight ends heavily this season, they needed more depth in case of injuries, especially until Kolar returns. They also want to make sure they have more blocking help. Eric Tomlinson, who departed in free agency, played a key role last year. At 6-foot-5, 259 pounds, Oliver certainly has the size for the job and flashed his receiving skills with a nice catch and run in the preseason finale.
The Ravens opted not to keep defensive lineman Isaiah Mack, who had a strong camp and good finish to the preseason. Mack's chances of making the 53-man roster seemed to improve after fellow defensive tackles Travis Jones suffered a knee injury in the second preseason game and Aaron Crawford went down with a groin injury in the preseason finale. Alas, Mack not being on the roster seems like good news for Jones' availability early in the season. The Ravens had a major defensive line roster crunch.
Inside linebacker Josh Ross made the team, continuing the Ravens' tradition of finding undrafted gems at that position. Ross shined in preseason games, making tackles all over the field and displaying good coverage instincts. He's also a bright spot on special teams. The Michigan rookie could have a substantial defensive role this season, and his relationship with Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald and familiarity with his system certainly doesn't hurt.
Veterans Tony Jefferson and Kevon Seymour both didn't make the initial 53-man roster, but there's a possibility that either or both could return at some point this season if they don't land elsewhere. Seymour is a valued member of the special teams who suffered an ankle injury in the preseason finale. Harbaugh said Monday that Seymour could be out only a few weeks and, "we'll have him sometime early in the season." Jefferson is a beloved figure but the safety depth was too much to overcome and Geno Stone has taken over Anthony Levine's special teams leader role.
The Ravens' lack of depth at outside linebacker could be masked somewhat by keeping five inside linebackers. Malik Harrison practiced at outside linebacker last season and does offer some flexibility. Kristian Welch shined in the preseason finale with 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks, earning his way onto the team. He's also been a special teams standout the past couple seasons.
The much debated wide receiver group ended up just as many predicted, with Baltimore keeping five, including recently signed Demarcus Robinson and Tylan Wallace. Though Wallace was injured for much of camp and the preseason, he was a fourth-round pick the Ravens were excited about and they want to see more. Undrafted rookies Shemar Bridges (waived/injured), Makai Polk and Raleigh Webb didn't carry enough momentum throughout the entire preseason to edge out Wallace. Some combination of that group could land on the practice squad.