Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Predicting the initial 53-man roster for the 2022 Ravens

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

With the Ravens setting their initial 53-man roster by 4 p.m. Tuesday, general manager Eric DeCosta must consider the status of injured players and will likely take some calculated risks to try to optimize his team’s makeup entering the 2022 season.

It’s imperative to remember the roster set on Tuesday isn’t going to be the same one traveling to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Jets on Sept. 11. In addition to any potential trades or outside additions, any player a team plans to place on injured reserve and designate for a return later in the season — after a minimum four-game absence — must be on the initial 53-man roster, which could require some roster gymnastics involving vested veterans who aren’t subject to waivers. In other words, teams like the Ravens, who are no strangers to taking advantage of roster rules and exceptions, won’t be afraid to think outside the box if they believe it gives them a competitive edge down the line.

Below is a look at the final projection of the initial 53-man roster that’s bound to change as early as Wednesday:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
IN: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley
OUT: Anthony Brown
Skinny: Brown showed much growth over the course of the spring and summer, but the top of the depth chart is too good and there are too many other positions of need to carry three quarterbacks, meaning Baltimore’s No. 3 quarterback is destined for the practice squad if he clears waivers.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (5)
IN: J.K. Dobbions, Patrick Ricard, Mike Davis, Justice Hill, Tyler Badie
OUT: Ben Mason, Nate McCrary
PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM LIST: Gus Edwards
Skinny: Without knowing how Dobbins is going to look early in the season after a slow ramp-up in his return from last year’s serious knee injury, the Ravens would be wise to carry three other running backs — at least for the time being.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
IN: Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche, Demarcus Robinson, Tylan Wallace
OUT: Shemar Bridges, Binjimen Victor, Raleigh Webb, Makai Polk
Skinny: The late addition of the veteran Robinson likely sealed the fate of young roster hopefuls such as Bridges and Polk, who never showed the consistency to warrant more than a spot on the practice squad at this point in their development.

TIGHT ENDS (4)
IN: Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely, Nick Boyle, Charlie Kolar
OUT: Josh Oliver, Tony Poljan
Skinny: Having been sidelined from sports hernia surgery since the start of camp, the rookie Kolar is expected to be placed on IR after the initial roster is set, which would leave him eligible to begin practicing after Week 4 and open up a roster spot in the meantime.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
IN: Ronnie Stanley, Ben Powers, Tyler Linderbaum, Kevin Zeitler, Morgan Moses, Patrick Mekari, Ja’Wuan James, Daniel Faalele, Tyre Phillips, Ben Cleveland
OUT: Trystan Colon, David Sharpe, Jimmy Murray, Kahlil McKenzie
Skinny: With Stanley off the PUP list and Linderbaum back from injury, this position group appears set with Colon looking like the odd man out since early in the summer, but it’s worth noting DeCosta has often used his offensive line depth for trades.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)
IN: Calais Campbell, Michael Pierce, Justin Madubuike, Travis Jones, Broderick Washington, Isaiah Mack
OUT: Brent Urban, Aaron Crawford, Rayshad Nichols
Skinny: Whether Jones lands on IR after the initial roster is set or not, his knee injury opened the door for Mack to make the 53-man roster as someone who could get the chance to show some interior pass rush early in the season. For the purposes of this exercise, Urban would be re-signed after the Ravens place Kolar on IR.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
IN: Patrick Queen, Josh Bynes, Malik Harrison, Josh Ross
OUT: Kristian Welch, Zakoby McClain
Skinny: While Welch’s contributions on special teams shouldn’t be discounted as enough reason for him to remain on the roster, Ross has shown more defensive upside in his strong preseason to warrant winning the fourth inside linebacker job.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
IN: Odafe Oweh, Justin Houston, Daelin Hayes, David Ojabo
OUT: Steven Means, Jeremiah Moon, Chuck Wiley
PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM LIST: Tyus Bowser
Skinny: Since the rehabbing Ojabo was never placed on the non-football injury list, the Ravens must leave him on the initial 53-man roster before moving him to IR where he’ll remain until later in the regular season. This creates a roster spot for Means to return or for DeCosta to make another addition at this dangerously thin position group.

CORNERBACKS (6)
IN: Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Kyle Fuller, Brandon Stephens, Damarion Williams, Jalyn Armour-Davis
OUT: Kevon Seymour, David Vereen, Daryl Worley
Skinny: Depending on the severity of his ankle injury, the Ravens could carry Seymour on the 53-man roster and move him to IR if they find another veteran to do a handshake agreement, but he could just as easily be released with an injury settlement and find his way back to Baltimore later in the season if necessary.

SAFETIES (4)
IN: Marcus Williams, Chuck Clark, Kyle Hamilton Geno Stone
OUT: Tony Jefferson, Ar’Darius Washington
Skinny: The short-term health of Williams and Armour-Davis could improve the roster hopes of Washington, who profiles better as a slot cornerback than a safety in this deep group. However, the bet here is Washington being waived in hopes of getting him to the practice squad and Jefferson being released with a chance to return for Week 1 or soon thereafter when the roster dust settles.

SPECIALISTS (3)
IN: Justin Tucker, Jordan Stout, Nick Moore
OUT: none
Skinny: The Ravens signed Cameron Dicker to handle kicking and punting duties in the preseason finale and waived him on Sunday, leaving nothing more to say about these entrenched specialists.

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