Friday, September 30, 2022

Sizing up the 2022 Ravens roster after the second preseason game

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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.

The Ravens won’t have to trim their roster to 53 players until next Tuesday, but cuts continued this week and the final preseason game will offer a better idea of what the team will look like entering the 2022 season.

The current 53-man roster projection still weighs track record, contract status, draft standing, and positional need in addition to what we’ve witnessed during training camp and the first two preseason contests. For now, I estimate 48 players to be comfortably on the roster, leaving five spots to fill. However, the status of injured players such as rookie tight end Charlie Kolar complicates matters as anyone wanting to remain eligible for a designation to return from injured reserve must be on the initial 53-man roster before going on IR. This has led to Baltimore making the occasional handshake agreement to open a temporary spot by releasing a veteran not subject to waivers and re-signing him a day or two later after the roster dust settles. Players on the active physically unable to perform list may be placed on the reserve PUP list without needing to be on the initial 53.

We’ll try to gain a better idea of where roster hopefuls stand based on the rep distribution in the preseason finale, but not all bubble players are on equal footing with certain position groups lacking depth and others enjoying so much talent that the numbers game will likely victimize a few players deserving of an NFL roster spot. Though general manager Eric DeCosta, head coach John Harbaugh, and the rest of the staff and front office are cognizant of the numbers at each position, trying to arbitrarily pinpoint a certain number of wide receivers or outside linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting a roster. The Ravens prefer reserves who will contribute on special teams, so they’ll look carefully at other attributes in addition to what players bring to their individual positions when formulating the back of the roster.

The number in parentheses indicates how many players from each position group are projected to be on the 53-man roster entering Week 1.

(Take a look at the Aug. 15 53-man roster projection HERE.)

QUARTERBACKS (2)
IN: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley
WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: Anthony Brown
Skinny: The undrafted Brown has certainly played well enough to warrant a spot on the practice squad, but there are just too many other roster considerations to justify keeping him among the top 53.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (5)
IN: J.K. Dobbins, Patrick Ricard, Mike Davis, Justice Hill, Tyler Badie
WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: Nate McCrary, Ben Mason
PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM LIST: Gus Edwards
Skinny: With Dobbins still ramping up his activity level in practice and Edwards officially out until at least October, this running back group hasn’t flashed quite as much as you’d like to see, but the summer state of the offensive line has had something to do with that.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
IN: Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche, Demarcus Robinson, Tylan Wallace
WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE: Shemar Bridges, Makai Polk, Binjimen Victor
LONG SHOT: Raleigh Webb
Skinny: Signing the 27-year-old Robinson to a one-year deal including nearly $900,000 fully guaranteed wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for the young receivers vying for a roster spot. Even if you’re a big believer in Bateman at the top of the pecking order, quality depth remains a concern here and keeping a sixth receiver really wouldn’t change that.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
IN: Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely, Nick Boyle
WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE: Josh Oliver
LONG SHOT: Tony Poljan
INJURED: Charlie Kolar
Skinny: With Likely’s breakout summer, Boyle’s improved health, and Ricard’s ability to contribute as a blocking tight end, there’s just no room for Oliver, who looks to be on the outside looking in after a nondescript summer. I wonder what’s going through Kolar’s mind as he’s watched fellow fourth-round rookie Likely become one of the big stars of the summer.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
IN: Ronnie Stanley, Tyler Linderbaum, Kevin Zeitler, Morgan Moses, Patrick Mekari, Daniel Faalele, Ben Powers, Ja’Wuan James, Ben Cleveland, Tyre Phillips
WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE: Trystan Colon
LONG SHOT: David Sharpe, Jimmy Murray, Kahlil McKenzie
Skinny: The health of Stanley will continue to make you uneasy until he returns to the field and — more importantly — stays on it, but most of the other roster dust in this position group seems to have settled beyond choosing the starting left guard. Of course, you can never rule out a DeCosta trade to shake up the depth chart.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)
IN: Calais Campbell, Michael Pierce, Justin Madubuike, Travis Jones, Broderick Washington, Brent Urban
WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE: Isaiah Mack
LONG SHOT: Aaron Crawford, Rayshad Nichols
Skinny: The knee injury to Jones could prompt the Ravens to keep an extra defensive lineman for the time being, and Mack has done all he can to keep himself firmly in the roster discussion despite being a potential victim of the numbers game. Everyone in this deep position group is deserving of at least a spot on the practice squad.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
IN: Patrick Queen, Josh Bynes, Malik Harrison, Josh Ross
WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE: Kristian Welch
LONG SHOT: Zakoby McClain
Skinny: It’s no secret Baltimore has an affinity for keeping at least one rookie free agent on its roster, and Ross — a Jim Harbaugh-endorsed Michigan product — may have moved ahead of the undrafted wide receivers as the top candidate, especially with Welch having an underwhelming summer. There isn’t as much depth here as the Ravens would prefer, but Harrison’s good summer has improved his standing.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
IN: Tyus Bowser, Odafe Oweh, Justin Houston, Daelin Hayes
WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE: Steven Means
LONG SHOT: Jeremiah Moon, Chuck Wiley
INJURED: David Ojabo
Skinny: Short of Bowser returning to practice in the next day or two and looking 100% immediately, it’s difficult to envision the Ravens going into the regular season without adding some help at this very thin position. Yes, the Ravens could keep both Hayes and Means on the 53-man roster, but is more quantity the answer here?

CORNERBACKS (7)
IN: Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Brandon Stephens, Damarion Williams, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Kyle Fuller, Kevon Seymour
WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: David Vereen, Daryl Worley
Skinny: The only real question appears to be whether the Ravens will make room for Seymour, who is strong on special teams in addition to providing positional depth. Vereen is having a rock-solid summer, but the undrafted rookie out of Newberry played only 10 defensive snaps late in the Arizona game, which could be an attempt to hide him enough to pass him through waivers and sign him to the practice squad.

SAFETIES (4)
IN: Marcus Williams, Chuck Clark, Kyle Hamilton, Geno Stone
WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE: Tony Jefferson, Ar’Darius Washington
LONG SHOT: none
Skinny: Everyone loves the 30-year-old Jefferson’s tenacity and intangibles in the locker room, but his roster momentum has slowed over the course of the summer and he hasn’t been quite as involved on special teams as many anticipated. Given Stephens’ ability to move back to safety if needed, would it be more valuable to keep Seymour if it comes to that decision?

SPECIALISTS (3)
IN: Justin Tucker, Jordan Stout, Nick Moore
WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: none
Skinny: The rookie Stout continues to look the part with Tucker even holding for him to kick an extra point in the second half of the Arizona game, which was a fun little switch-up in a meaningless game.

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