Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for the Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens went into the draft with only a few holes to fill, and it appears they have filled almost all of them to this point, with only a couple of question marks that will likely be answered before training camp starts.
This slideshow will show the Ravens' expected depth chart if the season were to start tomorrow.
The quarterback position is mostly set in Baltimore, with Joe Flacco as the starter. Flacco earned a huge contract after leading the team to a Super Bowl victory.
The only question at this position is who will be Flacco's backup. Tyrod Taylor manned this spot last year and seems to have the upper hand in the race against newly signed Caleb Hanie.
Tyrod and Hanie are probably equal in terms of passing ability, but Tyord also adds the ability to make plays with his legs. Hanie never proved to be an effective QB when he played for the Bears.
Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce will share the workload in 2013 for the Ravens. Last season the Ravens signed Rice to an extension and drafted Bernard Pierce, who proved he could be a productive back on his own. If the Ravens expect to get deep into the playoffs again, they're going to need to keep both Pierce and Rice fresh down the stretch.
Last year, the third running back was Anthony Allen because of his blocking ability on special teams. However, the Ravens will have to decide this year if they want to keep Allen or go with a more natural running back like Damien Berry or Bobby Rainey.
The Ravens' starter last year was Vonta Leach, who made the Pro Bowl. However, Leach has a $4.3 million cap hit for the 2013 season and may end up a cap casualty if the Ravens decide they want to sign a free agent at another position (i.e. left tackle)
The Ravens drafted Kyle Juszczyk out of Harvard in the fourth round. Juszczyk is a punishing blocker like Leach, but also offers flexibility that Leach does not. He's a terrific pass-catcher who can also line up as a tight end. If the Ravens feel comfortable with Juszczyk, they may feel that paying Leach all of that money may not be worth it.
The Ravens' starting tight end is Dennis Pitta, and Ed Dickson sees a lot of snaps in the two tight end packages. Both are good receivers who challenge defenses in different ways.
The third tight end is more of a question mark and could be filled in a variety of ways. If the Ravens decide to keep Vonta Leach (or maybe even if they don't), they could have Kyle Juszczyk serve as the third tight end because he played a lot of the position in college and showed some promise.
If not, rookie free agents Matt Furstenburg or Murphy Holloway could make the roster if they show anything in training camp. Holloway would be a long shot because he didn't even play football in college, but he's got athletic potential.
Torrey Smith is a definite starter, and it looks likely that Jacoby Jones will start opposite him.
After that, it depends on which young player steps up in training camp and preseason. Tandon Doss is a sure-handed receiver who looks likely to replace Anquan Boldin in the Ravens offense.
However, if Tommy Streeter, Deonte Thompson, or LaQuan Williams developed their game in the last year, then one of them might steal playing time from Doss. Rookie Aaron Mellette will also be in the competition for playing time and a roster spot.
I made one slide for the entire offensive line because I'm not sure that anyone is sure how the line is going to look at this point.
At LT, the Ravens could go a number of ways. Kelechi Osemele, Michael Oher, Ricky Wagner or re-signing Bryant McKinnie seem like the best options at this point.
The Ravens' best option here is Osemele. However, if not, then the team could look toward a few players. Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood both played time at the position last season, and the team just drafted Ricky Wagner and Ryan Jensen, who can both play the guard position. The Ravens have also been said to be high on Jack Cornell as a guard.
Gino Gradkowski is the starter at center, and the team drafted Ryan Jensen with the intention that he will be the backup there.
Marshal Yanda has been the starter at guard for years and is one of the best in the league. The backup here will be one of the players who doesn't start on the left side.
Michael Oher is expected to be the starter here, but he might be the best option for left tackle if no one else steps up. In that case, the Ravens would look to Jah Reid or Ricky Wagner as a starter here, most likely.
Last year the Ravens were relatively weak on the defensive line. They lost Ryan McBean to an injury before the season started and were playing Haloti Ngata at end hoping that both Terrence Cody and Ma'ake Kemoeatu would be able to man the nose tackle position.
Arthur Jones really came on towards the end of the year, and Pernell McPhee played better at the end of the season once he got healthy.
This offseason, the Ravens made it their mission to bolster the defensive line. They signed Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, both of whom were cut from their previous teams. Those two, in addition to McPhee, Jones and DeAngelo Tyson, will make a great rotation at defensive end.
Kapron Lewis-Moore was drafted late but will probably be placed on IR for this season.
In addition to Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody, the Ravens drafted Brandon Williams in the third round. These three will create a great NT rotation and give Ngata rest.
Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil will be the starters for Baltimore, but expect a heavy rotation to keep everyone fresh.
Courtney Upshaw developed well as the season went on last year and will get a lot of playing time (probably with all three on the field in some packages). John Simon will also probably get playing time, as well as Albert McClellan, and potentially Adrian Hamilton and Mike McAdoo.
The Ravens have a few options at inside linebacker. If Jameel McClain comes back healthy, he'll likely be one of the starters. Rolando McClain is very talented but has character issues and may be cut if he doesn't get his act together.
In the second round, the Ravens drafted Arthur Brown, and he'll see the field a lot as a coverage linebacker until he proves he can be solid against the run. Josh Bynes and Nigel Carr could also be in the rotation for playing time.
Lardarius Webb is coming back from a knee injury and, if he returns to form, will be one of the better cornerbacks in the AFC. Cary Williams left in free agency, which leaves an opening at the other corner position.
Jimmy Smith played well in the playoffs and will get every chance to start. If he doesn't play well, Corey Graham could start as well. Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown also have tremendous upside and will have more of a role this year.
The Ravens drafted Matt Elam to pair up with Michael Huff as the starting safeties. James Ihedigbo could get a lot of playing time early if Elam struggles. Christian Thompson was suspended for the first four games of the season but has a lot of upside.
Justin Tucker had a phenomenal rookie year as a kicker for the Ravens, and Sam Koch has been a solid punter since he arrived in Baltimore. Morgan Cox has been a reliable long snapper for several years as well.
The question mark here is: Who will return kicks and punts? Jacoby Jones was tremendous for Baltimore as a returner last year but will be starting on offense this year. The Ravens might want to look towards another option for punt returns and just have Jones handle the kickoffs.
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