Offense: Roster Bubble Predictions

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The Ravens have until Saturday at 6:00 p.m. to establish their 53-man roster. In some cases, players are fighting for a chance to live a dream by playing in the NFL, for others, they’re just trying to extend their career and collect another NFL-sized paycheck before being forced into retirement.

Currently, the Ravens are in a bit of a predicament, with eight wide receivers still remaining on the roster, all of which have either made an NFL roster before, or have enough talent to do so now. Let’s take a look at some key players by position and try to separate the contenders from the pretenders.

 

Backfield

The Ravens backfield situation is one that will be unique heading into the regular season. While most of the league has devalued running backs, the Ravens will carry two on their roster this season. The amount of members of the backfield may be the same (4), but I believe it’ll be an even split this year between running backs and fullbacks.

Rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk has been praised for having good hands, but he’ll likely be used as an emergency third running back if necessary. Last season, third-string running back Anthony Allen only carried the ball 16 times, mostly in mop-up duty during meaningless parts of the game. If Juszczyk appears to be able to carry Allen’s minor workload, it could spell trouble for for the third-year running back.

Anthony Allen: If Allen makes the team, he’ll be on thin ice. Allen has essentially be relegated to a one-trick pony, albeit a major contributor on special teams and the Pro Bowl season Jacoby Jones had last year as a kick returner. Juszczyk’s versatility could likely lead Allen to the unemployment line as special teams coach Jerry Rosburg already confirmed that Juszczyk and Allen play similar positions and are interchangeable if necessary.

That may not just mean by position, Rosburg could also be talking about job roles as well.

Prediction: 53-man roster, with no job security

Bobby Rainey: For the second-straight season, Rainey has put together fantastic game film during the preseason. Unfortuantely for Rainey, the Ravens don’t have a roster spot to burn on someone who just has a bunch of potential. In the two areas he excels (running back and kick returns), the Ravens have talent that will ensure that Rainey wouldn’t be active on game days.

While I hate to see him go, Rainey deserves a shot at some significant playing time, and that’ll come elsewhere in the NFL. Look for Rainey to be scooped up by another team hungry for a playmaker.

Prediction: Cut, with a bright future ahead of him.

Delone Carter: Last week, the Ravens received Carter in a trade from the Indianapolis Colts for WR/RS David Reed. I believe the Ravens were doing Colts head coach Chuck Pagano a favor because they knew Reed wasn’t going to factor into their plans. In the Colts’ eyes, Reed wasn’t worth surrendering a draft pick for, so Carter was the other piece of the trade as he was likely going to be released in Indy. Carter has an uphill climb to make a quick impression on the Ravens coaching staff, one already struggling to find ways to get running backs not named Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce on the field.

Prediction: Cut

Tight End

UPSET ALERT: Could rookie Matt Furstenburg actually beat out veteran Dallas Clark? Most people probably don’t believe so, but the former Maryland Terp has a good case to present. The new-era of the Ravens appears to be choosing youth over experience, and the same may be said about Furstenburg.

Billy Bajema: Popular opinion is that Bajema won’t make the team this season. I think a lot of people discount how much of a blocking tight end he is for the Ravens, whom with Dickson as a pass catching threat, is the only blocker the team has. Juszczyk is a good blocker and has been utilized as an H-Back, but I don’t see the team going with three pass catching TE’s.

Prediction: 53-man roster, only because of his blocking

Dallas Clark: I know he’s a big name TE, and maybe that comes with bigger expectations, but I’ve yet to really be impressed with Clark. When praised, it’s for his hands more-so than anything, but Clark has been shaky thus far. Clark also isn’t a blocking option as he has trimmed down from his previous playing weight and doesn’t have the muscle he once had as a member of the Colts.

Matt Furstenburg: He’s fast, he has good hands and he’s put plenty of good plays on film throughout training camp. Popular opinion is that Furstenburg will be placed on practice squad, but with the Ravens unlikely to retain both Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson next season, is Furstenburg their guy?

If released, there is a good chance that another team could claim Furstenburg off of waivers and add him to their team. It remains to be seen if the Ravens want to take that chance, but I think their roster is better served with Furstenburg than a one-year rental on Dallas Clark.

Prediction: Furstenburg in, Clark out (it may not be popular but it’s possible)

Wide Receiver

So many other moves impact the receiver position, that it’s almost impossible to really know what’s going to happen. The wide receiving corps has enough talent that could make an active roster, but most of them aren’t good enough to start.  With eight wideouts that have potential, look for six to be the magic number if Deonte Thompson is placed on IR.

Deonte Thompson: I personally believe that Thompson draws more praise than he should. His foot injury during training camp was unfortunate, because we cannot get a great gauge as to his abilities heading into his second season. I don’t think the Ravens have room for Thompson on their active roster, much for the same reason Bobby Rainey likely won’t make the team.

Thompson is a body catcher, which doesn’t bode well for a guy playing in the slot if needed. As far as on the outside, his style closely resembles that of Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, who are burners. On special teams as a kick returner, the Ravens have a few options and don’t necessarily need Thompson, who started five games last season as a returner.

Prediction: Injured Reserve, out of practice squad eligibility and worth keeping around

Tandon Doss: Doss certainly hasn’t shown anything to prove he’s deserving of a roster spot. It was apparent on Thursday night that he’s not on the same page as quarterback Joe Flacco, who is the primary reason Doss is playing in Baltimore in the first place.

With younger guys on the roster who are far more valuable to the team and contribute on both special teams and their skill positions, Doss has to go, especially if a trade is made.

Prediction: Cut

Marlon Brown: The undrafted rookie free agent has turned heads during training camp, especially those of his coaches. Between he and Aaron Mellette, I think Brown gets the nod as the sole rookie to crack the wide receiver depth chart.

Prediction: 53-man roster

Aaron Mellette: Despite having a very good training camp, Brown has out-shined him so far. Mellette has potential, but is unlikely to find it on the roster this year. I’d expect him to get the Tommy Streeter treatment and be placed on Injured Reserve so he’ll have another chance to prove himself next season. On the practice squad, Mellette would likely be picked up by another team.

Prediction: If Doss stays, he’ll go on IR to protect his rights for another season. If Doss is cut, he’ll make the team.

LaQuan Williams: When the Ravens traded Reed, I believe that was to make room for Williams on the active roster. Williams has greater potential as a receiver than Reed, even though he’s still very raw. On special teams, Williams has played on almost every unit with the first team, and it’s hard to see the Ravens letting a multi-faceted player like that walk.

Prediction: 53-man roster

Offensive Line

Not much needs to be said about the offensive line, who will replace only one member from their Super Bowl starters. Gino Gradkowski has seemed to earn the starting job, beating out A.Q. Shipley, who will also make the team as a backup.

Here are some notable players worth talking about though:

Rick Wagner: A fifth-round pick by the Ravens, Wagner has been adjusting to the NFL. Wisconsin is known for breeding offensive lineman, and that’s what the Ravens are hoping to receive from Wagner. At times, Wagner has struggled against Suggs and Dumervil, but for the most part has put together a decent training camp.

Prediction: 53-man roster, won’t receive much playing time

Antoine McClain: Primarily a practice squad player last season, McClain hasn’t done anything to stand out to earn a shot on the active roster this year.

Prediction: Cut

Note: Defensive breakdown will be posted on Tuesday.

For more Ravens news and information, follow me on Twitter @RavenManiac. 

18 Raves on “Offense: Roster Bubble Predictions

  1. Bull City Raven on said:

    Goob – Bob Steele here, from your old NC Ravens fan club. The club, led by Robin G., continues to thrive. Lynnwood was rocking last year all the way through to the end. Membership is up – which will happen when you win the big one!

    On your article – certainly one of the most interesting perspectives is related to the TE slots. I understand your point in thinking the team wont carry 3 pass catching TEs, however, my thinking is that the team will be unwilling to go forward with Dickson (still a concern with an injury) and Furstenburg (concerns with lack of experience) as being our only 2 effective pass catchers at the posiition. At the same time, they’ll be unwilling to risk Furstenburg getting snatched if they try to put him on the PS and they will want him for the future given the FA status of Dickson and Pitta.

    My thought is they’ll keep Dickson, Clark and Furstenburg and be willing to let Juszczyk take Bajema’s role. They will have improved experience at the position, can use Clark to help mentor Furstenburg and allow him to develop and then possibly step into the 2nd pass catching TE role should either Dickson or Clark get hurt.

    • Robert Fuse on said:

      I completely agree. They could easily use Juszczyk as a blocking Tight End. And if they need him to catch the ball, he can too. He’s a duel threat.

      • Kris JonesKris Jones on said:

        In theory, Juszczyk as a blocking TE sounds great and I would have let that sway my judgement in letting Bajema walk. However, I haven’t seen Juszczyk lined up in the true tight end position throughout camp. Juszczyk has been lined up in the fullback or H back role more than anything else, even though he was a TE in college, it isn’t the way he’s really been utilized in the NFL.

      • Bull City Raven on said:

        No problem, Kris. Love reading your stuff, as well the articles from your colleagues on russellstreetreport.com. Looking forward to seeing you at one of our meetups!

  2. Joe on said:

    Do you think the Ravens could use Ricky Wagner as blocking tight end in certain formations? If Wagner is used as the Ravens blocking tight end, that eliminates the need for Billy Bajema and creates the opportunity to have both Clark and Furstenburg on the team. Also, do you think if Bajema is cut, some other team will pick him up?

    • Kris JonesKris Jones on said:

      Joe,

      I saw Wagner line up as an eligible receiver in the last game when the Ravens were on the goal line. In theory, yes, Wagner could be put into that role, in fact, any tackle could. However, Wagner is unlikely to be active for many games, if any, games this season.

      As for Bajema, the reason I’ve struggled with determining if he’ll be on the team is the fact that I doubt anyone else picks him up, so they could always bring him back. I just don’t see Harbs going without a true blocking TE on the team. I could be wrong, but it’s just my gut telling me so. Also, most people have Clark making the team in their projections and I really think he’s on the bubble. That’s why I’ll go the opposite way on him for a good argument’s sake.

  3. jj on said:

    Kris,
    Why you said Deonte Thompson is “out of PS elegibility” ?
    He has only been active for 6 games. A player has PS elegibility until he has been active to 9 games…

  4. Bruce_Almty on said:

    Our receivers may not be Roddy White, Julio Jones, & Tony Gonzalez but, thankfully, our QB is not Matt Schaub either. I like the look our offense is taking & this being the season…Hope Springs Eternal…playoff bound.
    Go Ravens

  5. Anonymous on said:

    Furstenburg deserves to make this team and will gone in a New York minute if we try to put him on the
    practice squad.While Stokely has looked good,Clark has looked slow and I mean very slow.

    In a surprise to some,Clark will get cut

    • frank g. on said:

      I agree, Clark is playing like an old man. I thought the Ravens wanted to get younger and faster to keep up with the AFC North. Furstenburg fits that criteria not Clark.

    • spy on said:

      Agree 100%,,,,no way he gets cut , other teams need TE help as well , the squeelers would pick him up quick,,,,,,,,,,,,it will break my heart if he gets cut , he looks like he could develope into the real deal……….

  6. Chris on said:

    I actually think the Ravens will keep four TE. I thought they would even before Pitta’s injury. I dont think they keep 5 guys in the backfield. RBs are a dime a dozen. Someone servicable will be available at any time during the season, if the Ravens lose RR or Pierce. The great thing about having two really good RB is that either of them can be a work horse if the other goes down.

  7. frank g. on said:

    Bobby Rainey has earned a spot on the final 53. He is multi -talented returning punts and kickoffs .If the Ravens are dumb enough to dump him he will be another Preist Holmes and be a star for another team like the Steelers.

  8. Bruce_Almty on said:

    Ravens do a good job of planning 2~3 yrs down the road. Dallas Clark/Bill Bajema — neither will be a Raven in 2 yrs. Matt Furst, too much potential to risk losing. Also, Pitta/Dickson contract year is coming up. If either Clark or Bajema were released, they would probably be available later to resign if the Raven TEs don’t work out.

  9. Ravenwoman on said:

    Furstenburg is this year’s Justin Tucker. The decision will come down to Bajema or Clark. I was disappointed in his performance last Thursday. He looked like he hasn’t played football in 2 years. The Ravens need to do the right thing here and consider letting Clark go.

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