Predicting the Baltimore Ravens' 53-Man Roster
Like any year, though, Ozzie Newsome has done a great job adding free agent veterans at "the right price," and replenishing the depth chart through the draft with potential future starters and role players.
With that being said, let's take a look at what the final roster and depth chart could look like...
Starter: Joe Flacco
No surprises here. Flacco is getting closer and closer to the big game every year. He played well in two big wins against Pittsburgh and put the Ravens in a position to beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship.
The real question is when the Ravens will finally get a long-term deal done with their franchise QB, as he is entering the last year of his rookie contract.
Backup: Tyrod Taylor
Last year, the Ravens had enough confidence in Taylor to only keep two quarterbacks on their active roster.
He played well in the preseason, and I don't expect this year to be any different.
Third String: Curtis Painter
The Ravens likely signed Curtis Painter because of his ties to former Colts head coach and current Ravens quarterback coach Jim Caldwell. If he makes the active roster, it will probably be for the same reason.
Running Back/Fullback (4)
Starter: Ray Rice
Despite holding out for training camp and refusing to sign the franchise tag tender, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Rice as the Ravens feature back for 2012.
2013 could be an entirely different story however.
Second String: Bernard Pierce
The Ravens didn't trade up in the third round for a third-string running back. Look for Pierce to take some of the load off Ray Rice.
Third String: Anthony Allen
Anthony Allen and Damien Berry will battle it out for the third-string running back spot in training camp, but right now Allen seems to have the edge.
Fullback: Vonta Leach
Vonta Leach won't have much competition at fullback, and even if he did, the job would still be his.
Wide Receiver (6)
Wide Receiver 1: Anquan Boldin
We'll probably see Boldin lined up in the slot throughout the course of the season, but for depth chart purposes, let's assume that he's listed as the first wide receiver.
Wide Receiver 2: Torrey Smith
Torrey Smith is the only known deep threat on the roster right now. He filled in very nicely for the injury-stricken Lee Evans last season, and hopefully he can continue to develop his sophomore year.
Wide Receiver 3: Jacoby Jones
Younger receivers will certainly challenge Jones for this spot, but ultimately I think the veteran has the edge.
He's been serviceable for the Texans in Andre Johnson's absence, so let's hope he can be more in Baltimore.
Fourth String: Tandon Doss
When the Ravens run four wide receiver sets, the big question will be which one of their young wide receivers will take the field. They all have a legitimate chance to win the job, but I'm assuming they'll all get in there from time to time until one of them breaks out.
Right now I think Doss has the edge as he has the upside to be a solid possession receiver one day.
Fifth String: LaQuan Williams
LaQuan Williams had a few more catches than Tandon Doss last year, but ultimately I believe he is better suited for special teams.
Sixth String: Tommy Streeter
Streeter has tremendous upside, but he's incredibly raw. If he spends the year working on his routes and watching Anquan Boldin, he could skyrocket up the depth chart by next season or even the end of this one.
Tight End (3)
Tight End 1: Ed Dickson
Dickson struggled with a few dropped passes last season, but let's hope he can move past it and take a step forward this year.
Tight End 2: Dennis Pitta
Dennis Pitta isn't exactly a backup tight end. As the Aaron Hernandez to Dickson's Rob Gronkowski, we'll see the Ravens run a multitude of two tight end sets this season.
Third String: Davon Drew
This could come down to Davon Drew and Kris Wilson, who is currently an unrestricted free agent.
Offensive Line (8)
Left Tackle: Bryant McKinnie
McKinnie was serviceable at the left tackle position last year, and the fact that the Ravens kept him around suggests they think he can hold down one of the most important positions on the field again.
Lately he's been trying to cut weight to get back to Pro Bowl form.
Left Guard: Kelechi Osemele
Here's where the offensive line starts to get a little foggy.
Ultimately I think I comes down to Osemele and Jah Reid, we'll see if Osemele can outplay the second year tackle.
Center: Matt Birk
Birk will be the starting center to at least begin the 2012 season. We'll see if he can make it through all 16 games at his age.
Right Guard: Marshall Yanda
Yanda is one of the best right guards in the NFL.
Right Tackle: Michael Oher
Michael Oher has been a bit of a disappointment since being draft in the first round of the 2009.
If he wants a contract when his rookie deal expires, he'll need to step it up sooner than later.
Backup LG/RT: Jah Reid
If there was a sixth man in football on the offensive line, it would be Jah Reid.
Backup Center: Gino Gradkowski
Expect Gradkowski to start at center for the Ravens in 2013. This year however, he'll learn as much as he can from all-pro center Matt Birk.
Reserve Tackle: Ramon Harewood
Harewood has struggled to stay healthy since being drafted as a developmental prospect in 2010.
He isn't exactly the backup left tackle, because if anything happened to McKinnie, Oher would slide over and Jah Reid would play right tackle. But he may make the final roster regardless.
Defensive Line (7)
Left Defensive End: Pernell McPhee
McPhee will compete with Arthur Jones for the defensive end position left open by Cory Redding.
Ultimately they will split time in different sets, but McPhee's pass-rush skills may keep him on the field more as the Ravens are desperate for pass-rushers after losing Terrell Suggs to injury.
Nose Tackle: Terrence Cody
Third-year nose tackle Terrence Cody is going to have to step it up this season with some new competition at the nose tackle position.
Right Defensive End: Haloti Ngata
Expect Ngata to have another Pro Bowl season.
Left Defensive End 2/Defensive Tackle: Arthur Jones
Arthur Jones will likely see most of his playing time on first and second down in 3-4 sets.
Backup Nose Tackle: Ryan McBean
He's suspended for the first three games of the year, but I expect McBean to beat out rookie Denagelo Tyson and the aging Ma'ake Kemoatu for playing time in goal line sets and on special teams.
Reserve Defensive Tackle: Deangelo Tyson
Tyson is unproven, but with the new crop of veteran tackles to compete with, he may not have much of a chance to prove anything for awhile.
Reserve Defensive Tackle: Ma'ake Kemoatu
Kemoatu was effective for the Ravens once before, but has struggled with injury since then. The signing was likely for depth only, but his knowledge of the team will help him compete for playing time.
Right Outside Linebacker: Courtney Upshaw
Terrell Suggs' injury will be devastating for the Ravens pass-rush, unless Courtney Upshaw can grow up quickly.
Right Inside Linebacker: Jameel McClain
McClain seems to improve every year. He tested the free agent market this offseason but ultimately came back to Baltimore, which should be a a good thing for both parties.
Left Inside Linebacker: Ray Lewis
Despite what some pundits say, Ray Lewis has shown very few signs of slowing down and is still playing like a top inside linebacker in this league.
However, how long he can continue to play at that level remains to be seen.
Left Outside Linebacker: Paul Kruger
Courtney Upshaw seemed to be the logical fit at Sam linebacker before Terrell Suggs' injury. However if he's asked to now fill Suggs' role, Paul Kruger could be the next man up.
He hasn't shown much in the ways of run defense, but this year could be a different story.
Backup ROLB: Michael McAdoo
McAdoo is a bit of an unknown at this point. The Ravens picked him up as a UDFA with solid upside last season.
Backup ILB/Special Teams: Brendon Ayanbadejo
The Ravens opted to bring back Ayanbadejo, as he has been a solid situational and depth player, as well as an asset on special teams.
Backup ILB: Dannell Ellerbe
Ellerbe has been serviceable in Ray Lewis' absence since being picked up by the Ravens as a UDFA.
Backup LOLB: Sergio Kindle
This is a make or break year for Kindle. If the light bulb doesn't go back on soon, the Ravens may have to cut their losses.
Reserve OLB*: Terrell Suggs
If Terrell Suggs has a realistic chance of recovering and playing by the end of the season, the Ravens will keep a roster spot open for him.
Cornerback 1: Lardarius Webb
Webb established himself as one of the top corners in the league last season, and recently he got paid like it.
Cornerback 2: Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith could definitely challenge Cary Williams for a starting role this season.
Third Cornerback: Cary Williams
If Cary Williams doesn't land himself a starting role again next season, he'll definitely see time in nickel packages.
Fourth String Cornerback: Chykie Brown
Brown has showed some promise as a depth player and could eventually become more than that.
Fifth String Cornerback: Danny Gorrer
Gorrer should make the active roster and could battle it out with Chykie Brown and Corey Graham for a higher spot on the depth chart.
Sixth String Cornerback/Special Teams: Corey Graham
Graham will probably see most of his actions as a special teams player.
Seventh String Cornerback/ Kick Returner: Asa Jackson
This year's fifth-round pick should make the active roster due to his ability to return kicks.
Free Safety: Ed Reed
Is this Ed Reed's last season?
Strong Safety: Bernard Pollard
Pollard came in and played like a Raven immediately last season. After signing a three-year extension Tuesday, he'll be sticking around for awhile.
Backup Free Safety: Christian Thompson
Fourth-round pick Christian Thompson will spend the year learning from Ed Reed while providing depth should he not make it through the entire season (knock on wood).
Backup Strong Safety: Sean Considine
The veteran will see most of his time on special teams.
Kicker: Billy Cundiff
He should have some competition in training camp, but there just aren't any better options out there at kicker right now. Hopefully he has put the AFC Championship nightmare behind him and can look towards the future.
Punter: Sam Koch
Not much of a shocker here, Koch is one of the best in the business at what he does.