Sizing up 2019 Ravens roster after third preseason game
With the third preseason game in the rear-view mirror, we take our latest look at the Ravens’ 53-man roster with final cuts less than a week away.My current assessment suggests as many as 49 players would be considered safely on the 53-man roster if the deadline were to come now. Of the 90 players currently on the roster — fullback Christopher Ezeala carries an international player roster exemption — I list 13 on the bubble. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, of course, with some position groups lacking quality depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent and likely falling victim to the numbers game. It’s also important to consider any player’s contract status as the organization is more likely to retain a player with multiple years of control remaining compared to one similar in talent nearing the end of his contract.Though general manager Eric DeCosta, head coach John Harbaugh, and the rest of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of the numbers at each position, arbitrarily trying to pinpoint a specific number of outside linebackers or offensive linemen isn’t the most accurate way of projecting a roster. The Ravens are always looking for reserves who will excel on special teams, so coaches will look carefully at players’ other attributes in addition to what they bring to their specific positions when filling out the back end of the roster.Bubble players who are underlined are the ones projected to make the cut for the projected 53-man roster as of Aug. 26.QUARTERBACKS (3)IN: Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin IIIBUBBLE: Trace McSorleyLONG SHOT: Joe Callahan Skinny: The sixth-round rookie from Penn State turned in his best performance of the summer against Philadelphia, which should keep him on the right side of the bubble. Meanwhile, Harbaugh confirmed over the weekend Griffin (right thumb) is on track to be ready for the regular season.RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (4)IN: Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Patrick RicardBUBBLE: Kenneth Dixon, De’Lance Turner, Tyler ErvinLONG SHOT: Christopher EzealaSkinny: Of the bubble trio, Dixon is the best back, Ervin the most impactful special-teams player, and Turner the most balanced, but none of them have built an overwhelming case to be kept as a fourth running back. Dixon could have some limited trade value while Turner could go to the practice squad.WIDE RECEIVERS (6)IN: Willie Snead, Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Chris MooreBUBBLE: Jaleel Scott, Seth Roberts, Michael FloydLONG SHOT: Antoine Wesley, Sean Modster, Jaylen Smith, Joe Horn Jr.Skinny: Catching a touchdown and serving as a gunner on the punt team last Thursday, Scott is appearing more likely to make the team. Roberts is an interesting call after missing two weeks of action, but he raises the floor of a young position group while Floyd’s push feels too little, too late.TIGHT ENDS (3)IN: Nick Boyle, Mark Andrews, Hayden HurstBUBBLE: noneLONG SHOT: Charles Scarff, Cole HerdmanSkinny: Scarff and Herdman continue to look like no more than practice-squad candidates, but Ricard is capable of lining up as a blocking tight end, leaving little need for a fourth tight end on the roster.OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)IN: Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Orlando Brown Jr., Matt Skura, Ben Powers, James Hurst, Jermaine Eluemunor, Bradley BozemanBUBBLE: Patrick MekariLONG SHOT: Greg Senat, Randin Crecelius, R.J. Prince, Marcus Applefield, Darrell Williams, Patrick Vahe, Isaiah Williams Skinny: Bozeman’s solid play over the last couple weeks lands him comfortably on the roster while Mekari didn’t really take advantage of his first-team chances earlier this month. The latter could still make the team as a ninth offensive lineman, but an outside addition at guard remains quite possible.DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (5)IN: Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Willie Henry, Chris Wormley, Daylon MackBUBBLE: Zach SielerLONG SHOT: Gerald Willis Skinny: Sieler might be the only clear backup behind Wormley as a 5-technique defensive end, but he played only two defensive snaps against the Eagles and the Ravens are playing fewer and fewer “base” 3-4 defense snaps, making him vulnerable. Willis is currently hurt and could go on injured reserve.INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)IN: Patrick Onwuasor, Chris Board, Kenny YoungBUBBLE: Otaro AlakaLONG SHOT: Donald Payne, Alvin Jones, E.J. Ejiya, Silas StewartSkinny: Alaka has had a good summer and is probably the best bet for Baltimore to continue its 15-year streak of keeping at least one rookie free agent on the initial roster. The signing of Paul Worrilow didn’t work out, but that could be an indication that DeCosta will try to add veteran depth here.OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)IN: Matthew Judon, Pernell McPhee, Jaylon Ferguson, Tyus Bowser, Tim WilliamsBUBBLE: Shane RayLONG SHOT: Aaron Adeoye Skinny: I’m still concerned this group is more inventory than quality depth, but the pecking order has been defined for a while with Bowser and Williams firmly ahead of Ray. Perhaps a big showing in the preseason finale wins him a spot, but the former Denver Bronco just hasn’t shown much this summer.CORNERBACKS (7)IN: Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Anthony Averett, Iman Marshall, Justin Bethel, Cyrus JonesBUBBLE: Maurice CanadyLONG SHOT: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Terrell BondsINJURED RESERVE: Tavon Young Skinny: Trying to project this group remains extremely difficult with no final decision yet on Young’s status and the rookie Marshall having missed more than two weeks with a thigh injury. If both go to IR, keeping Canady appears more likely as the Ravens want to maintain deep depth at this position.SAFETIES (5)IN: Earl Thomas, Tony Jefferson, Chuck Clark, Anthony Levine, DeShon ElliottBUBBLE: Brynden TrawickLONG SHOT: Bennett JacksonSkinny: Trawick was a Pro Bowl special-teams player in 2017, but his limited positional value as a reserve dime back behind Levine and the younger Elliott makes it challenging to keep him on the roster compared to other special-teams contributors like Bethel and Jones, who are both cornerbacks.SPECIALISTS (3)IN: Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan CoxBUBBLE: noneLONG SHOT: Matthew Orzech, Cameron Nizialek, Elliott Fry Skinny: The three long shots should have a valuable opportunity to showcase their talents Thursday in hopes of catching on elsewhere. We’ve seen it happen before with former Ravens specialists.