Sizing up the 2023 Ravens roster following mandatory minicamp

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With mandatory minicamp and the offseason workout program in the books, the Ravens now count down to the start of training camp in late July with a very formidable roster on paper.

As three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey acknowledged last week, the Ravens look “very scary,” but it’s time to “prove it” in 2023 after making the playoffs in four of the previous five years but not advancing beyond the divisional round in the postseason.

This exercise will carry more meaning when we get to the meat of the preseason in August, so this early look at the roster is still based heavily on track record, contract status, draft standing, and positional need rather than observations from a handful of non-contact workouts this spring. Acknowledging the possibility of a couple veteran additions between now and the start of the regular season, I currently estimate 45 players to comfortably be on the 53-man roster, leaving eight spots to fill. We’ll get a better idea of where players stand beginning 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 having so much talent that the numbers game will likely squeeze out someone otherwise 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 value 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 bottom 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
BUBBLE: Tyler Huntley, Josh Johnson, Anthony Brown
LONG SHOT: none
Skinny: It remains to be seen whether the NFL’s new No. 3 quarterback rule will prompt Baltimore to carry three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, but spring workouts indicated the 37-year-old Johnson will get a real chance to compete for the primary backup job, which is notable with Huntley set to earn $2.6 million in non-guaranteed salary this season.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (7)
IN: J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Patrick Ricard, Justice Hill
BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: Ben Mason, Keaton Mitchell, Owen Wright
Skinny: The Ravens frequently carried four tailbacks on the roster when Greg Roman was the offensive coordinator, so we’ll see if Todd Monken desires quite as much backfield depth with designs of passing the ball more often. Adding a veteran running back with ability as a receiver and in blitz pickup wouldn’t be surprising.

WIDE RECEIVERS (14)
IN: Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman, Zay Flowers, Nelson Agholor, Devin Duvernay
BUBBLE: Tylan Wallace, James Proche
LONG SHOT: Laquon Treadwell, Andy Isabella, Sean Ryan, Dontay Demus, Tarik Black, Mike Thomas, Shemar Bridges
Skinny: With the top five seemingly set barring health concerns, we’ll see how much the Ravens value special-teams ability and developmental upside in deciding on additional receiver spots on the roster. There wouldn’t appear to be much separation among the “bubble” and “long shot” names at this point, meaning there’s opportunity for just about anyone to make a case for a back-end roster spot.

TIGHT ENDS (4)
IN: Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely, Charlie Kolar
BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: Travis Vokolek
Skinny: This offense will still need more of an in-line tight end after the free-agent departure of Josh Oliver. That solution could be as simple as redistributing snaps among some combination of Ricard, Andrews, Likely, and Kolar, but we shouldn’t completely dismiss the potential for another blocking tight end, especially considering how Monken’s University of Georgia offenses operated.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (17)
IN: Ronnie Stanley, Tyler Linderbaum, Kevin Zeitler, Morgan Moses, Patrick Mekari, Daniel Faalele, Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, Sam Mustipher
BUBBLE: John Simpson, Ben Cleveland, David Sharpe
LONG SHOT: Tashawn Manning, TyKeem Doss, Jake Guidone, Brandon Kipper, Jaylon Thomas
INJURED RESERVE: Andrew Vorhees
Skinny: The emergence of the rookie Aumavae-Laulu as a viable left guard candidate will make the competition for that starting job even more interesting. Widely viewed as the left guard favorite entering spring, Cleveland instead worked at other positions, which could either help his overall roster chances or signal that he’s in danger of having the same fate as fellow third-round pick Tyre Phillips last summer.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
IN: Michael Pierce, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington, Travis Jones, Brent Urban
BUBBLE: Angelo Blackson, Rayshad Nichols
LONG SHOT: Kaieem Caesar, Trey Botts
Skinny: The 30-year-old Blackson received a strong endorsement from former Chicago teammate Roquan Smith before being signed last month and could have the inside track for a potential sixth defensive line spot. But given how many members of this position group are entering a contract year, you’d love to see a young defensive lineman surprise this summer.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (7)
IN: Roquan Smith, Patrick Queen, Trenton Simpson, Malik Harrison
BUBBLE: Kristian Welch, Del’Shawn Phillips, Josh Ross
LONG SHOT: none
Skinny: Special teams coordinator Chris Horton downplayed the new fair catch rule on kickoffs impacting roster decisions, but one would think this would be the position group affected the most with Welch and Phillips not offering much value beyond special teams. Former mid-round picks who are backups in the final year of their rookie contract are often vulnerable, but Harrison’s ability to move out to strong-side outside linebacker helps his roster standing.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (7)
IN: Tyus Bowser, Odafe Oweh, David Ojabo, Tavius Robinson
BUBBLE: Jeremiah Moon
LONG SHOT: Malik Hamm, Kelle Sanders
Skinny: The shape of this group changes with a veteran addition such as the return of Justin Houston, but Moon and Hamm flashed enough in spring workouts to make them two names to watch in the preseason. Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald will also be looking for the young outside linebackers to prove they can consistently set the edge against the run.

CORNERBACKS (11)
IN: Marlon Humphrey, Rock Ya-Sin, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Damarion Williams
BUBBLE: Kyu Blu Kelly, Trayvon Mullen, Kevon Seymour, Daryl Worley
LONG SHOT: Corey Mayfield Jr., Jeremy Lucien, Jordan Swann
Skinny: Even if Baltimore plans to use a safety for the nickel role like last year, there isn’t much established outside corner depth behind Humphrey and Ya-Sin with Armour-Davis battling injuries last year, Mullen not living up to his former second-round billing at previous stops, Kelly being a fifth-round rookie, and Worley potentially moving to safety. In other words, you’d expect another veteran to be added for competition at the very least.

SAFETIES (6)
IN: Marcus Williams, Kyle Hamilton, Brandon Stephens, Geno Stone
BUBBLE: Ar’Darius Washington
LONG SHOT: Jaquan Amos
Skinny: How Hamilton adjusts to a full-time safety role in his second season will be interesting to watch, but the re-signing of Stone and the move of Stephens back to safety leave this group in good shape even after the trade of Chuck Clark. Washington is someone to watch in the competition for the primary nickel job.

SPECIALISTS (3)
IN: Justin Tucker, Jordan Stout, Nick Moore
BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: none
Skinny: The Ravens invited several other specialists to mandatory minicamp on a tryout basis and typically add another kicker to share some reps during training camp and preseason games, but there’s nothing else to see here from a roster construction standpoint.

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