The Ravens have until 4 p.m. Saturday to trim their roster down to 53 players. Only this year, there won’t be any preseason games to base the roster cuts off of.
The team is at 76 players, meaning they’ve got 23 cuts to make at some point between Thursday and Saturday afternoon in what will no doubt be one of the tougher cutdown days in recent memory for the Ravens.
Here’s the latest 53-man roster projection, a projection that is guaranteed to be 100 percent correct. Unless it’s not.
Quarterbacks (3): Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III, Tyler Huntley (R)
This list remains the same from the previous projection just a week ago.
Jackson and Griffin are the team’s roster locks. The team’s fourth option, Huntley or Trace McSorley, seems destined for the practice squad if they can get him there. And for now, it’s worth it to take the risk on Huntley on the 53-man roster.
In training camp, Huntley showed promise — and results — on the practice field with some quality passes and impressive scrambles. He simply provides more upside as the team’s third quarterback than McSorley right now.
With that said, the organization has invested a decent amount into McSorley, who was a sixth-round choice in 2019. Either way, I don’t think either quarterback will be out of the Ravens’ plans in 2020. I think the Ravens will try their best to sneak McSorley onto the practice squad.
Running backs/fullback (5): Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins (R), Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Patrick Ricard
This was perhaps the easiest position to project, even in the second projection.
The Ravens should be able to keep four running backs, and Ricard, with relative ease considering how much the team relies on the run game. With Edwards set to hit free agency in 2021, Dobbins as a rookie and Hill’s still relative newness to the NFL game, the choice was easy here.
Wide receiver (6): Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Willie Snead IV, Devin Duvernay (R), James Proche (R), Chris Moore
Again, there’s not a change to the projection here. The only question is whether or not the organization will keep Moore — who has missed nearly the entirety of training camp due to a broken finger — or Jaleel Scott.
If the Ravens decide that Moore’s special teams ability, which they’ve praised in the past, is worth the roster spot, then he’ll be the choice. With Brown, Boykin, Duvernay and Proche on the depth chart, this is a young and exciting position to monitor in 2020 and beyond.
Tight end (3): Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Eli Wolf
The first change to the list comes here, and it’s in the form of Eli Wolf.
The Ravens reportedly were set to release Charles Scarff earlier this week, according to Jeff Zrebeic of The Athletic, but held off with a slight injury to Wolf. There’s been talk of using Ricard as a tight end, but that might be a bit premature for 2020 considering the Ravens’ love of tight ends.
No team in the league used its tight ends more than the Ravens did a year ago, so my expectation here is that they’ll take three to start the season. With four running backs, and Ricard as an option to fill in, I think they take Wolf to slowly ease into the NFL game over Jerell Adams.
Essentially, this is a future play instead of an immediate need.
Offensive line (9): Ronnie Stanley, Bradley Bozeman, Patrick Mekari, D.J. Fluker, Orlando Brown Jr., Matt Skura, Ben Bredeson (R), Tyre Phillips (R), Will Holden
This is another interesting position to project, one that can fluctuate as the season goes along.
With Skura’s knee an unknown, the Ravens could use him to decide what to do at the position. If he’s healthy, the Ravens have a bevy of interior options to fill in at guard and center. Even with the right guard spot, which seems to be down to the rookie Phillips and Fluker, still as a question mark, there’s certainly the possibility to use the backup as a swing tackle.
For now, I think they take Holden on. If they feel more comfortable with Fluker or Phllips as a swing tackle as the season goes along, then Holden could be an early cut in the regular season. But for now, Holden is necessary insurance along the line as a swing tackle.
Defensive line (6): Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams, Justin Madubuike (R), Broderick Washington (R), Justin Ellis
This was where I really struggled to find the Ravens’ 53rd spot on the roster.
On the one hand, they could use an extra body in the secondary. On the other hand, an injury to Brandon Williams could be catastrophic. Which is why, essentially, it’s a coin flip between Ellis and safety Nigel Warrior that leans toward Ellis.
Ellis gives the Ravens a backup nose tackle behind Williams, and with Madubuike’s injury (Harbaugh said he was week-to-week), the Ravens could use Ellis early in the season against the Browns.
This prevents any unnecessary worry about depth along the defensive front so early in the season, and buys Madubuike time to get healthy so the Ravens aren’t relying on Washington for significant snaps early on in his career.
Outside linebacker (5): Matthew Judon, Jaylon Ferguson, Pernell McPhee, Tyus Bowser, Jihad Ward
This position was set from the outset of training camp.
They’ve got the franchise tagged player in Judon and a nice development piece in Ferguson. Added in is the veteran McPhee and rotational pieces Bowser and Ward. If there’s an injury to either Judon, Ferguson or McPhee, the Ravens could be in a bit of trouble.
For now, that’s the unit.
Inside linebacker (4): Patrick Queen (R), L.J. Fort, Malik Harrison (R), Chris Board
The only decision at middle linebacker seems to be between Board and Otaro Alaka. Even still, the Ravens might find a way to get both on the roster.
But once you get down to the final few cuts, it’s a tough call. And in this case, the special teams prowess of Board is more than enough to safely get him on the roster.
The Ravens might try to sneak Alaka and undrafted rookie Kristian Welch onto the practice squad to give them some special teams help ready to go, but for now, Board is the choice as the fourth inside linebacker.
Cornerback (5): Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Tavon Young, Jimmy Smith, Anthony Averett
Averett has drawn praise for his training camp, and with the season-ending knee injury to Iman Marshall, the drama from this position battle really went out the window.
With the Ravens’ top four corners out, and the fifth decided as camp started due to an injury, there really wasn’t much to debate here.
Safety (4): Chuck Clark, DeShon Elliott, Anthony Levine Sr., Geno Stone
This is another position that could go down to the wire. Now, I think they’ll try and get Warrior onto the practice squad.
With Clark as the lone proven starter on the defense, depth here is a question especially without Earl Thomas. This could certainly be a position they look to upgrade during the season — especially if there’s an injury — but the Ravens will have to try and get Warrior on the practice squad instead of risking the defensive line’s stability so early on.
Special teams (3): Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox
There’s no debate here. Meet your 2020 specialists.