Quarterbacks (2): Joe Flacco, Marc Bulger
Analysis: The Ravens have too much talent at other positions, players more worthy of a roster spot than a third string quarterback. Let’s not get too carried away and conclude that the team’s wildcat options disappear with Troy Smith’s departure. When were those options ever used in a plus way against a difficult opponent? Truth be told, a quarterback of Smith’s caliber can be found atop the scrap heap of quarterbacks anytime, anywhere, any day. Even Smith might be the one down the road (if needed) atop that heap. After all the former Heisman winner apparently attracts little interest around the league. Even the Browns opted for the mighty Seneca Wallace over Smith preferring instead to hold on to their sixth round pick.
Running Backs (4): Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain, Jalen Parmele
Analysis: Curtis Steele needs some seasoning and Coach Wilbert Montgomery has been working with him to change up his pacing, to let plays develop and not always go at top end speed. Steele has explosiveness in short spaces and if he can make special teams contributions he has a shot. Matt Lawrence who was among the final 53 in ’09 has yet to take the practice field and looks like an injury settlement waiting to happen.
Tight Ends (3): Todd Heap, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta
Analysis: This may be the easiest position on the team to assemble. 2009 fifth round draft pick Davon Drew has no chance to make this squad and looks like a wasted pick than no one in the organization wants to take credit/blame for.
Wide Receivers (5): Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Donte Stallworth, Demetrius Williams
Analysis: Williams is among the five to make the final 53 based purely (at this time) on the number of reps he was given with the second team offensive unit v. the Panthers. This spot is still far too close to call. Williams’ primary threat looks like rookie David Reed with Justin Harper and Marcus Smith a distant 7 and 8.
Offensive Linemen (9): Jared Gaither, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Chris Chester, Oniel Cousins, Tony Moll, David Hale
Analysis: Hale is far from a lock. No one has really stepped up for the ninth roster spot on the O-Line and it’s not necessarily a given that 9 is the number. Stefan Rodgers has looked decent at times during camp but looked lost against Carolina. Joe Reitz has some upside (accept in his vertical leap) but might be a better practice squad option. Bryan Mattison is heady in the way you might expect from a coach’s son (Greg Mattison) but he lacks size and explosiveness. Ramon Harewood will not be released. He could end up on the final 53 man roster but he’s more likely to come up with a mysterious injury that will land him on IR in the same way that Tony Pashos did during his rookie season.
Defensive Linemen (7): Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg, Trevor Pryce, Cory Redding, Terrence Cody, Kelly Talavou, Lamar Divens
Analysis: Unless they can pull off a trade the Ravens will lose a quality defensive lineman who can be productive in a D-Line rotation. Talavou, Divens, Brandon McKinney and Art Jones are all very close. The Ravens could try to find a way to have 8 defensive linemen if they don’t make a trade or someone like Jones could also get the “Pashos treatment.”
Linebackers (10): Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden, Jameel McClain, Antwan Barnes, Paul Kruger, Prescott Burgess
Analysis: This position looks fairly set but the tenth slot boils down to Burgess and Jason Phillips. Burgess has been a plus contributor on special teams and plays the weak side position while Phillips is an inside backer where the team seems pretty set with Lewis, McClain, Ellerbe and Gooden. Phillips will need to really impress special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. Ayanbadejo hasn’t practiced yet and PUP is a possibility which could free up a spot for Phillips or a contributor at another position. Should Sergio Kindle make a remarkable recovery he could alter the make up of this unit. At this point Kindle looks to be a lock for the PUP List but word is that the Ravens view this as the most optimistic outlook for the former Longhorn. Kindle is still without a contract and will not get one until he is medically cleared to play football.
Secondary (10): Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura, Fabian Washington, Lardarius Webb, Chris Carr, Ken Hamlin, Cary Williams, Travis Fisher
Analysis: Fisher at this time seems to be a safe choice given his experience and number of reps with the first unit throughout camp. If not for injury and Williams’ lack of availability in weeks 1 & 2, Fisher would be in jeopardy. That said he is hardly safe. Prince Miller gained some fans with his play against Carolina but he lacks size and isn’t as physical as a similarly sized predecessor, Corey Ivy. The Ravens ask their nickel to blitz on occasion. It would be difficult to envision Miller bringing down Ben Roethlisberger. Chris Hawkins could step up and there’s always the chance the team could make a deal for another corner. KJ Gerard showed promise during OTA’s but he’s been mostly a spectator during camp, slowed by a hamstring injury. Nakamura’s productivity could threaten Hamlin’s spot on the team if Reed does not go on the PUP list. Doug Dutch is purely a warm body to eat up practice reps.
Special Teams (3): Billy Cundiff, Morgan Cox, Sam Koch
Analysis: The Ravens would love to have a kicker who can nail an occasional 50+ yarder and history suggests that Shayne Graham is more likely to provide that ability. But Graham has so far lacked Cundiff’s consistency and one has to wonder if Graham has a bit of a kicker’s hangover after his playoff struggles last season as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.