Breaking down the biggest takeaways from Ravens final round of roster cuts

The Baltimore Ravens’ initial 53-man roster for the 2020 season is set after the team announced their final round of cuts on Saturday afternoon following the league’s 4 pm eastern standard time deadline. There were a total of 23 players cut and the newly expanded 16-player practice squad will be announced on Sunday.

Before I dive into the biggest takeaways and break down the initial roster, here’s a list of who got let go on Saturday in alphabetical order:

  • TE Jerell Adams
  • LB Aaron Adeoye
  • RB Kenjon Barner
  • DB Terrell Bonds
  • C Trystan Colon-Castillo
  • DT Aaron Crawford
  • DB Khalil Dorsey
  • G Parker Ehinger
  • G Will Holden
  • QB Tyler Huntley
  • WR Jaylon Moore
  • LS Nick Moore
  • DB Josh Nurse
  • DB Jordan Richards
  • DE Chauncey Rivers
  • TE Charles Scarff
  • WR Jaleel Scott
  • P Johnny Townsend
  • DB Nigel Warrior
  • LB Kristian Welch
  • RB Ty’Son Williams
  • DE Marcus Willoughby
  • TE Eli Wolf

Now here are the biggest takeaways and a breakdown of where the roster is heading into Week One:

Ravens undrafted rookie streak is over-

Perhaps the biggest takeaway of them all is that the Ravens 16-year streak of having an undrafted rookie make the initial final 53-man roster won’t be extended for a 17th straight year. According to reports undrafted tight end out of Georgia and undrafted safety Nigel Warrior out of Tennessee were the most impressive of the bunch in training camp and had the best shot at keeping the streak alive. They are both expected to be prime candidates the team will want to bring back on the practice squad.

While there will most certainly be a high number of them on the team’s practice squad and will likely be called up at some point in the season due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus that is still running ramped throughout the country, it’s a shame the streak had to end.

Ravens are rolling with just two ‘true’ tight ends-

One of the biggest question marks heading into training camp was who would take over the third tight end spot that was vacated when the Ravens traded former first-rounder Hayden Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons back in March. Wolf was among those that competed for the spot that sees a lot more of the field in Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman’s system than the typical third tight end on a depth chart.

He battling with 2019 undrafted free agent Charles Scarf and veteran Jerell Adams who was brought in after camp got underway. Ultimately, the Ravens opted not to go with any of them initially even though Wolf could be a player that they try to stash on the practice squad until he gets fully healthy since he missed practice throughout camp with a couple of undisclosed injuries.

That leaves the team with 2019 breakout star Mark Andrews and veteran blocking extraordinaire and underrated pass catcher Nick Boyle as the only two tight ends by trade left on the roster. The Ravens intend on using converted defensive lineman Pro Bowl Patrick Ricard at tight end some in 2020. He played some tight end last year as an inline blocker, spends most of his time in their positional group meeting rooms, and has had a good camp looking much-improved catching passes.

Unless Wolf is brought back or the team adds a player that was released from another team or is just sitting on the open market, Baltimore will be counting on Boyle and Ricard to step up and become more of a threat as receivers which the coaching staff is confident that they can achieve.

Ravens will carry three quarterbacks again-

For the third year in a row, every year since reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson was drafted, the Ravens will be keeping three quarterbacks on the roster. Jackson and veteran backup Robert Griffin III were no brainers but there was a bit of uncertainty if and who they would keep as the third quarterback.

The competition for the third spot was between 2019 sixth-round pick Trace McSorley and undrafted rookie Tyler Huntley. While neither player by far the better camp than the other according to reports, I believe the decision came down to two factors. One being that McSorley already has a year in the system even though he appeared in just one game as a rookie and the second being that because there was no preseason this year, there isn’t any film on the former Utah standout making him an unknown commodity for any team that might want to claim him off waivers or poach him from the Ravens practice squad.

Even though McSorley was hurt by not being able to play in any exhibition games this year either, he did light it up in the preseason last year. Had he been cut Saturday; he likely would’ve been claimed off waivers by another team that would be banking on what they saw in 2019 and hoping that they could make him their developmental quarterback. Huntley has better odds of clearing waivers and will likely be a prime candidate to be signed to Baltimore’s practice squad.

Ravens went light at defensive back and a little heavy at linebacker-

The Ravens vaunted secondary took two significant blows in recent weeks following losing second-year corner Iman Marshal for the season to a torn ACL and terminating seven-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas for conduct detrimental. However, despite those losses, the team opted to head into the season with just five corners and four safeties while keeping a whopping 10 linebackers.

Baltimore was expected to keep four inside linebackers at the most with rookies Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison and veteran L.J. Fort as locks with former undrafted gem Chris Board gaining the edge over Otaro Alaka due to his special teams prowess. Both Board and Alaka remain on the roster and the reasoning behind that is likely their experience on special teams carried more weight than undrafted rookies like Warrior and cornerback Josh Nurse or Khalil Dorsey would’ve brought as additional depth in the backend.

As far as edge rushers, 2019 Pro Bowler Matthew Judon, rising sophomore Jaylon Ferguson, fourth-year pro Tyus Bowser and veteran Pernell McPhee were all locks to make the team and are officially listed at outside linebacker. However, fifth-year veteran Jihad Ward is listed as a defensive end but he takes the most snaps and spends most of his time rushing off the edge except for when he kicks inside in sub-packages during obvious passing downs.

The Ravens five corners heading into the 2020 season are 2019 First-Team All-Pro selections Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters as the starting outside corners, feisty nickel corner Tavon Young manning the slot. The primary backups will be third-year pro Anthony Averett and veteran Jimmy Smith who is expected to play some safety this season.

The four safeties that made the roster were Chuck Clark entering his first season as a full-time starter and DeShon Elliott who will be taking over the starting spot that was vacated by Thomas’ release. In addition to Smith taking some snaps at safety, the other primary backups will be special teams ace Anthony Levine who is better suited as a linebacker in sub-packages at this stage in his career, and seventh-round rookie Geno Stone who edged out Warrior who many believed had the better camp of the two but likely wouldn’t have cleared waivers if cut.

Chris Moore makes the team despite missing all of camp-

It is rare for a veteran player that is not slated to be a starter on either offense or defense and not one of the four specialists on special teams to make the final roster after not suiting up for a single training camp practice due to an injury over a player still on their rookie deal that has been in camp from start to finish and showed significant signs of improvement.

However, fifth-year veteran receiver Chris Moore proved to be the rare exception when he made the initial final 53-man roster over third-year receiver Jaleel Scott despite missing every practice of camp with a broken finger. He suffered the same injury last year and achieved the same feat so it’s not a surprise to anyone within the organization or follows the team closely.

While Scott showed a stronger presence on special teams in camp this year, he was never able to show it against an opposing team in live competition because there was no preseason this year. Whereas the team knows exactly what there are getting from Moore when he’s healthy and that is one of the best special teams players in the league who is excellent covering kicks and punts and even has returned kicks for the team in the past.

Ravens still believe in Ben Powers-

Immediately following the retirement of future Hall of Famer and eight-time Pro Bowl offensive guard Marshall Yanda early in the offseason, the 2019 fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma was penciled in as the top in house candidate to take over the vacated right guard spot in the starting lineup. However, the Ravens don’t just hand out starting spots, they make their player earn it and bring in enough competent competition to ensure they get the best starter at any position.

That’s exactly what they did by drafting rookies Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson in the third and fourth round respectively and signed veteran DJ Fluker shortly after the draft. While Powers didn’t have the greatest camp and hasn’t emerged as the front runner to take over for Yanda, he didn’t have a horrible camp and could just need more time to develop.

Some believed that Powers was on the roster bubble heading into the final week of camp and even predicted that he would not make the final cut. Their reasoning for the team giving up on him after one year was that they believed that it was more important to have a swing tackle with pro-level experience. The two candidates that fit that bill were veterans Parker Ehinger and Will Holden who have started games at both offensive guard and tackle in the NFL but they were both cut on Saturday, clearing a path for Powers to make the team.

The Ravens will have nine offensive linemen on the roster to start the season and will likely have Phillips, who played left tackle in college and has been competing at right guard as well, serve as the swing tackle.

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