I have gone through the Ravens’ roster as it sits today and I have circled who in my opinion are 38 lead pipe locks (list below) to make the Ravens’ final 53 man roster. The mix of those players goes like this: (2) QB’s; (5) WR’s; (3) RB’s; (2) TE’s; (5) OL’s; (8) DB’s; (5) LB’s; (5) DL’s; (3) Specialists.
The rationale behind the players that I have NOT included among the 38 may stem from performance, salary cap issues; an abundance of talent at the position or there may be less expensive players outperforming those with bigger paychecks.
Another factor that may weigh into the shaping of the roster is the de-emphasis on special teams thanks to the insanity of the new kickoff launching pad – the 35 yard line.
Last season the Ravens final 53 man roster on opening day consisted of: (2) QB’s; (6) WR’s; (4) RB’s; (3) TE’s; (8) OL’s; (9) DB’s; (9) LB’s; (9) DL’s; and (3) specialists.
So with that in mind players who in my opinion are NOT locks to be on the squad come September 11, 2011 include: WR’s Marcus Smith; James Hardy; LaQuan Williams; Brandon Jones; RB’s Damien Berry; Matt Lawrence; Jalen Parmele; Anthony Allen; Ryan Mahaffey; TE’s Davon Drew; Jonathan Stupar; Kris Wilson; O-Linemen Tim Barnes; Justin Boren; Bryan Mattison; Ramon Harewood; Oniel Cousins.
On defense I’ve omitted: DB’s Domonique Foxworth; Chykie Brown; LB’s Albert McClellan, Brendon Ayanbadejo; Prescott Burgess; Tavares Gooden; Jason Phillips; Dannell Ellerbe; D-Linemen Brandon McKinney; Cory Redding; Lamar Divens. All of the D-Linemen look safe but could be challenged by diamond in the rough Bryan Hall.
Add it up and that’s 28 decent to good players looking to win one of the remaining 15 roster spots and that does not include any potential free agent additions to the guard/center, offensive tackle and backup QB positions.
The fight for survival will be fierce and it sets up nicely if you are looking for positional battles to watch tonight. Here are a few of the better ones:
WIDE RECEIVER: Scratch James Hardy off your list for the final 53. He’s practiced sparingly and when he has his drops are more memorable than his impressive size and physique. The best he can hope for is an injury settlement…Marcus Smith’s hands are a soft as a pizza stone. Can special teams play save him? Doubtful…Brandon Jones hasn’t done anything to hurt himself but the vibe is that he’s looked upon as a stepchild. He’ll have a difficult time…LaQuan Williams has done everything he’s been asked to do and the coaches seem to be giving him attention. He could be a surprise No. 6 WR if he can contribute on Jerry Rosburg’s units. More than likely, he’s on the practice squad – assuming he doesn’t impress the pro scouts from other teams too much.
RUNNING BACK: Damien Berry has shown some flashes but as they say, you can’t make the club in the tub. His ankle injury is hurting his chances…Matt Lawrence’s knee issues continue to be problematic…Jalen Parmele’s job is more secure given the injuries and Anthony Allen’s less than impressive performance thus far…Ryan Mahaffey could be a practice squad player.
OFFENSIVE LINE: This unit is under fire more than any other on the team. My count leaves 3 spots open (assuming the team keeps 8 as they did in 2010) and the players battling for those spots include: Ramon Harewood, Oniel Cousins, Bryan Mattison, Tim Barnes, Justin Boren and Ryan Bartholomew. Potential free agent signings only serve to heighten this competition.
SECONDARY: The way I see it, there’s only 1 spot left if the team carries 9 DB’s as they did in ’10. Battling for the spot are Domonique Foxworth, Mana Silva, Chykie Brown, Talmadge Jackson and Josh Victorian. Foxworth has been soft and needs to step up, particularly when you consider his big salary…Silva has played well at safety but is a long shot…UDFA’s Jackson and Victorian have outplayed Brown with the edge going to Victorian thus far.
LINEBACKERS: Last year there were 9! This year so far only 5 are locks. Competing for those 4 spots are Albert McClellan, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Prescott Burgess, Tavares Gooden, Jason Phillips and Dannell Ellerbe.
Lead Pipe Locks for Ravens 2011 Roster
QUARTERBACK: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor (2)
WIDE RECEIVER: Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans, Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, David Reed (5)
RUNNING BACKS: Ray Rice, Ricky Williams, Vonta Leach (3)
TIGHT ENDS: Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson (2)
OFFENSIVE LINE: Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Matt Birk, Ben Grubbs and Jah Reid (5)
SECONDARY: Ed Reed, Jimmy Smith, Cary Williams, Bernard Pollard, Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb, Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura (8)
LINEBACKERS: Ray Lewis, Jameel McClain, Terrell Suggs, Sergio Kindle, Jarret Johnson (5)
DEFENSIVE LINE: Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody, Arthur Jones, Pernell McPhee, Paul Kruger(5)
SPECIALISTS: Billy Cundiff, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox (3)