An in depth look at the Ravens’ roster one week from the NFL Draft
Quarterback – Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III
Pretty clear here, Lamar Jackson will be the starting quarterback and Robert Griffin will back him up. They will probably add an arm or too from the undrafted class.
Running Back – Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon
The Ravens signed Mark Ingram to a three- year, $15 million contract this offseason so he will likely lead the charge at running back. Gus Edwards will also get a significant amount of the carries, following a rookie season in which he ran for over 700 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. 2019 will be a make or break season for 4th year running back Kenneth Dixon, who has spent more time on the sideline than the field in his career so far. A late round addition at running back would not shock me, as the running back room still lacks a player with breakaway speed.
Wide Receiver – Willie Snead, Chris Moore, Seth Roberts, Jordan Lasley, Jaleel Scott
When looking at the receiver position, I see Willie Snead as the only starting caliber receiver. Moore and Roberts will find their way on the field, but the Ravens are currently without a true number one and number two receiver.
I think it’s safe to say we cannot expect much from Jaleel Scott or Jordan Lasley, who each failed to play a single snap in their rookie season. I anticipate the Ravens taking at least two receivers in the draft, with one likely being an early rounder.
Tight End – Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Hayden Hurst
Who is the starter? Does not matter, you are going to see plenty of each of these guys this season as long as they stay healthy. Andrews is coming off a terrific rookie season in which he produced 552 yards and proved to have sure hands over the middle. Nick Boyle will continue to manhandle the opposition on the line and confirm that he’s one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. The old man Hayden Hurst (25 y/o second year) looks to bounce back from a disappointing rookie season. It’s safe to say his foot injury in the preseason continued to hold him back when he returned, and he’s going to be hungry to show fans why the Ravens used a first rounder on him in 2018. The Ravens won’t take a tight end.
Offensive Line – Ronnie Stanley, James Hurst, Matt Skura, Marshal Yanda, Orlando Brown Jr., Jermaine Eluemenor, Bradley Bozeman
Left tackle, Right guard, and Right Tackle are set with Stanley, Yanda, and Brown, respectively. Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments of 2018 was Alex Lewis’ play at left guard, coming off a shoulder injury that sidelined him for all of 2017. There seems to be a divided opinion among the fanbase on Matt Skura, who I believe improved drastically throughout the season, but is not an NFL starting caliber center.
Hurst and Bozeman were quality depth pieces in 2018, but I don’t think either are quite good enough to start. I expect the Ravens to take one or two offensive lineman in the draft, specifically interior lineman.
Defensive line – Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Chris Wormley, Willie Henry, Zach Sieler, Patrick Ricard
One of the deeper groups on the team, the defensive line is lead by two 300 pound run stuffers in Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce. The Ravens should not worry about losing 16 game “starter” Brent Urban as they are getting back fourth year DT Willie Henry. Henry, a 2016 4th round pick, was primed for a breakout season last year before suffering a season ending herniated disk in week 7. Wormley, Sieler, and Ricard will continue to shuffle into the mix and are all young enough to take the next step. If the Ravens pick a defensive lineman in the draft, I would expect it to be a pass rush specialist, as their interior pass rush has lacked in recent years.
Outside Linebacker – Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams
Pass rush was already a problem last year, and the departures of Terrell Suggs and Zadarius Smith do not help. Matt Judon had an okay season in 2018, but it was far below expectations, in my opinion. Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams, former second and third round draft picks, have each been enormous disappointments two years into their careers. I predict Baltimore to take at least two pass rushers in the draft because it is their most lacking position on the roster.
Inside Linebacker – Patrick Onwuasor, Kenny Young, Chris Board
In 2018 the Ravens used a rotation of Onwuasor and Young next to all pro CJ Mosley. With CJ Mosley cashing in with the Jets, there is now uncertainty at the position. Patrick Onwuasor, likely the best defensive player in the wildcard round, is set to lead the ILB group in 2019. Kenny Young, a fourth round pick in 2018, showed quick instincts and pass coverage skills last season. However, he definitely lost some juice in the second half of the season. The question is – are the Ravens comfortable with Onwuasor and Young as the starters? Or possibly a rotation of Young and Board next to Onwuasor? My guess is no, but I don’t see them adding to the position in the draft. They’ve got youth, but lack experience. Look for the Ravens to target a veteran ILB who gets cut after June 1st, similarly to Daryl Smith in 2013.
Cornerback – Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Tavon Young, Anthony Averett, Cyrus Jones, Justin Bethel
Marlon Humphrey is a stud, Brandon Carr is severely underrated, and Jimmy Smith can still play at a high level. What else could you ask for? Oh yeah, they also have one of the best slot corners in the league in Tavon Young, who was rewarded a nice three- year, $25.8 million extension this offseason. Anthony Averett, the 2018 fourth round pick from Alabama, held his own in 2018 and will provide depth moving forward. With all that talent, the Ravens couldn’t possibly draft a corner right? Wrong. Brandon Carr is 32, Jimmy Smith is 30 and one serious leg injury away from being done.
Do not be shocked if the Ravens look to find a guy to lineup on the opposite side of Marlon Humphrey for the next ten years.
Safety – Earl Thomas, Tony Jefferson, Anthony Levine Sr., Chuck Clark, Deshon Elliot
Another deep position, the safety group got much better with the addition of Earl Thomas and the departure of Eric Weddle. The hope is Thomas will be able to elevate the play of Tony Jefferson, who has struggled in pass coverage ever since signing with Baltimore. One of the most versatile players on the team, Anthony Levine will continue to see ample playing time in the Ravens’ dime and sub packages at safety, corner, and linebacker. Look for Chuck Clark and Deshon Elliot to mix in this year too, as the Ravens may be looking for one of them to start next to Earl Thomas in 2020 if they cut ties with Tony Jefferson. I would be very shocked to see a safety selected in the draft this year.
Special Teams – Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox
Unlikely to see any changes here, as the self proclaimed “wolfpack” is a big reason the Ravens have arguably lead the league in special teams play this decade. It’s worth noting that the Ravens have kept second year K/P Kaare Vedvik on the roster all offseason. One could make the case for cutting ties with longtime punter Sam Koch before the season, which would save Baltimore 3.15 million in cap space.