Sizing up the 2022 Ravens roster counting down to training camp

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The Ravens won’t trim their roster to 53 players until the end of the preseason, but mandatory minicamp provided a better idea of what the coaching staff has to work with for the 2022 season.

This exercise will carry more meaning as we head into the meat of the preseason in August, so my early look at the roster is still based more on track record, contract status, draft standing, and positional need than snapshot observations from a handful of non-contact workouts in the spring. Acknowledging the likelihood of a couple veteran signings and the challenge of projecting when rehabbing players might return from injury, I currently estimate 46 players to be safely on the Week 1 roster, leaving seven spots to fill. We’ll get a better idea of where players stand starting with the rep distribution in training camp and continuing with the snaps in the preseason games. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, of course, with certain position groups lacking depth and others enjoying so much talent that the numbers game will likely victimize a couple players deserving of a 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 safeties isn’t the most accurate way of projecting a 53-man roster. The Ravens always prefer reserves who excel on special teams, so they’ll look carefully at players’ other attributes in addition to what they bring to their individual position groups when filling out the back of the roster.

The numbers in parentheses indicate how many players are currently on the 90-man roster at that position. As we move into training camp and the preseason schedule, I’ll provide updated looks complete with 53-man roster projections of who’s in and who’s out.

QUARTERBACKS (4)
IN: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley
BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: Anthony Brown, Brett Hundley
Skinny: Neither Brown nor Hundley provide enough upside to justify the Ravens devoting a 53-man roster spot to a third quarterback behind Jackson and Huntley.

RUNNING BACKS (7)
IN: J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards
BUBBLE: Mike Davis, Tyler Badie, Justice Hill
LONG SHOT: Nate McCrary, Ricky Person
Skinny: This position group is the ultimate shrug man emoji with injuries, age, and contract status impacting how it might look for the season opener on Sept. 11. If Dobbins and Edwards are 100% and ready to go for Week 1, the higher floor provided by the 29-year-old Davis becomes more expendable, but you’d still expect the Ravens to prioritize depth after last year’s injury nightmare. Badie’s upside and contractual control as a sixth-round pick make him a better bet to make the roster than Hill in his contract year, but the latter is good on special teams and shouldn’t be counted out returning from a torn Achilles tendon.

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
IN: Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche, Tylan Wallace
BUBBLE: Binjimen Victor, Devon Williams
LONG SHOT: Jaylon Moore, Slade Bolden, Shemar Bridges, Trevon Clark, Makai Polk, Raleigh Webb
Skinny: Of the practice-squad options and rookie free agents trying to prove they’re worthy of a roster spot behind a top four that aren’t all that established themselves, Victor and Williams flashed the most this spring and are each 6-foot-4 or taller as red-zone options. No matter how many receivers Baltimore keeps, the current group doesn’t inspire enough confidence for a team aiming for the Super Bowl. We’ll see if a veteran addition that moves the needle comes to fruition at some point.

TIGHT ENDS & FULLBACKS (8)
IN: Mark Andrews, Patrick Ricard, Nick Boyle, Charlie Kolar, Isaiah Likely
BUBBLE: Josh Oliver
LONG SHOT: Ben Mason, Tony Poljan
Skinny: The silver lining related to the receiver picture is the improved depth at tight end with the fourth-round additions of Kolar and Likely, who both flashed this spring. While Andrews remains the top pass-catching target by an overwhelming margin, the fact that Oliver — who appeared in 14 games last season — is closer to being a long shot than a good bet to make the roster speaks to the efforts made to augment a position that was so important to the success of the 2019 Ravens.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (14)
IN: Ronnie Stanley, Tyler Linderbaum, Kevin Zeitler, Morgan Moses, Patrick Mekari, Tyre Phillips, Ben Cleveland, Daniel Faalele, Ja’Wuan James
BUBBLE: Ben Powers, Trystan Colon
LONG SHOT: Jaryd Jones-Smith, Kahlil McKenzie, Jimmy Murray
Skinny: The health and performance of Stanley could be the difference between this group being a top-10 offensive line in the NFL and struggling to hang in the middle of the pack, which is more of a compliment to the 2019 All-Pro left tackle than any knock on DeCosta’s offseason efforts to improve the group. There will be another competition at left guard this summer and Linderbaum needs to live up to the hype of being the 25th overall pick, but those questions feel less consequential if Stanley is finally right physically. If he’s not, protecting Jackson’s blindside will again be a substantial concern. Jones-Smith is a sleeper to watch.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
IN: Calais Campbell, Michael Pierce, Justin Madubuike, Travis Jones, Broderick Washington
BUBBLE: Brent Urban, Isaiah Mack
LONG SHOT: Aaron Crawford, Rayshad Nichols
Skinny: You’d still like to see a little more upside and a little less age in this group, but Campbell and Pierce remain excellent run defenders and Jones adds some pass-rushing potential as a third-round pick. Madubuike didn’t take the big step forward many anticipated last season, so much of this unit’s long-term upside depends on the development of both him and Jones. The 31-year-old Urban’s path to a roster spot became easier with the release of Derek Wolfe at the start of minicamp.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (7)
IN: Patrick Queen, Josh Bynes, Malik Harrison, Kristian Welch
BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: Zakoby McClain, Diego Fagot, Josh Ross
Skinny: Any of these rookie free agents could emerge as a candidate to make the 53-man roster this summer and Fagot will have no shortage of local support coming out of the Naval Academy, but the Ravens are a little lighter than usual on special-teams experience and Welch and Harrison led all returning players in special-teams snaps last season.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (8)
IN: Tyus Bowser, Odafe Oweh, Daelin Hayes
BUBBLE: Vince Biegel, Steven Means
LONG SHOT: Jeremiah Moon, Chuck Wiley
NON-FOOTBALL INJURY LIST: David Ojabo
Skinny: OK, maybe this group is the biggest shrug man emoji with Bowser’s Week 1 status in question after a torn Achilles tendon in January and Ojabo likely to begin the regular season on the non-football injury list. The tragic death of Jaylon Ferguson only increased the high probability of the Ravens adding a veteran edge rusher and perhaps a second. In the meantime, Biegel and Means are two experienced options vying for a roster spot. No matter how this all plays out, Oweh — who underwent offseason shoulder surgery — taking the next step after a promising rookie year feels like the biggest necessity.

CORNERBACKS (10)
IN: Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Kyle Fuller, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Damarion Williams
BUBBLE: Kevon Seymour
LONG SHOT: Robert Jackson, Iman Marshall, David Vereen, Denzel Williams
Skinny: The veteran addition of Fuller and the fourth-round selections of Armour-Davis and Williams put this group in much better shape from a depth standpoint, but its upside still hinges on how effectively Peters returns from last September’s ACL tear. The Ravens seem higher on Seymour — whom they re-signed in mid-January — than many assume and will always try to keep an extra cornerback whenever possible with last year’s injury debacle providing the necessary justification.

SAFETIES (7)
IN: Marcus Williams, Kyle Hamilton, Chuck Clark, Brandon Stephens
BUBBLE: Tony Jefferson, Geno Stone, Ar’Darius Washington
LONG SHOT: none
Skinny: There isn’t a deeper position on either side of the ball, but lingering questions about Clark’s status could alter the unit’s makeup, which is why I’m keeping the versatile Stephens in the safety group until we see where he’s working at the start of training camp. Jefferson brings some leadership in addition to his contributions playing in sub packages, but Stone is younger and likely to be more of a factor on special teams. The Ravens can likely make room for both, but Washington faces a steeper climb to a roster spot coming off a foot injury that shortened his rookie year.

SPECIALISTS (3)
IN: Justin Tucker, Jordan Stout, Nick Moore
BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: none
Skinny: Though the Ravens sometimes add an extra kicker or long snapper to share reps during training camp, there’s little to see here from a roster standpoint beyond the simple curiosity of how Stout fares replacing the retired Sam Koch.