With a week’s worth of practices in the book during the ’21 Ravens Training Camp portion of the preseason, it’s time we take inventory of the team’s progress to date as the players enjoy a needed day off to get set for practices on Friday and Saturday.
While it’s typically an easy undertaking to say ‘Player X’ has moved up from the 2nd team to the 1st team,’ the Ravens way of mixing up the units doesn’t exactly allow fans to pick apart ‘units’ as easily as you’d like.
As such, we’ll look at individual performances thus far to determine whose stock is UP… and who is tumbling DOWN.
Stock UP: Tyler Huntley
Huntley came into camp as the QB3, and I’m not so sure he’s viewed as anything less than a QB2B at this juncture, more likely QB2A. Huntley’s game mimics Lamar Jackson‘s so well that it would allow Baltimore to run the same offense regardless of who is under Center, so really, all Huntley needs to do is be slightly better than McSorley in camp, which is exactly what he’s done.
Stock DOWN: Trace McSorley
There’s really only two QBs vying for the QB2 spot (sorry, Kenji Bahar) so naturally if one is up? The other must be down. The latter is the case for McSorley, whose deep ball is underwhelming, still struggles with accuracy in 11v11 (thrives in 7v7 without the pressure of a pass rush) and has a strange knack for heavily favoring the left half of the field.
Tony Lombardi’s (TL) Take: I agree with Adam that Huntley more closely mimics Lamar while running the offense but let’s not kid ourselves. The offensive production drops dramatically with either Huntley or McSorley at the controls. It would be nice to see both operate behind an efficient offensive line that has some degree of continuity in order to fully evaluate their performances. This pair has been running for their lives throughout camp. I give a slight edge to Huntley at this point. Their respective performances in preseason games should be interesting to observe.
Stock UP: Deon Cain
I could’ve taken the easy out here and said James Proche, but I thought highlighting another standout is worthwhile. Cain isn’t getting the camera lens time like Proche, but with the absences of Hollywood Brown, Miles Boykin, and at times Rashod Bateman and Sammy Watkins, Cain has had more opportunity to shine, and has taken advantage of it. Behind only Proche, Cain has been the second most reliable wideout of the unit thus far, runs smooth routes, and shows soft hands.
Stock DOWN: Miles Boykin
Okay, so I took the easy one here. Boykin has been fighting for his job as one of the final wideouts on the roster, but a hammy injury is limiting his camp days, and that’s following a handful of drops prior to visiting the trainer. It wouldn’t shock me to see Boykin outside looking in after a lackluster showing thus far.
TL’s Take: No argument here. Cain has taken advantage of his opportunities and to Adam’s earlier point about the Ravens mixing it up with players across the depth chart spectrum, Cain has gone up against All Pro CB Marlon Humphrey and has had success despite a patchwork line and Huntley/McSorley behind center. I expect Boykin to start the season on IR. The Ravens struggle to part ways with 3rd-round picks after just two seasons.
Stock UP: Eli Wolf
Before camp broke, I made mention that Wolf isn’t even in the TE3 conversation… I’m not so sure that’s the case anymore. Wolf’s blocking looks to be much improved, while he’s out there catching everything thrown his way. He did have a misstep yesterday turning upfield before securing the ball, leading to a PBU/INT, but made up for it in short order with a nice catch on the far sidelines.
Stock DOWN: Josh Oliver
Don’t get me wrong- this TE3 job is still Oliver’s to lose- but I think the gap between Oliver and the field is closing. Watching Oliver on the field, he just doesn’t flash like I expected and like I saw in OTAs. When he’s out there running routes it seems like he does a lot of excessive head faking/movement to try and break off his defender which does absolutely nothing, and his blocking (crucial) leaves something to be desired.
TL’s Take: While I agree with Adam’s take on Wolf, I disagree on Oliver. I think he’s performed well and when I’ve focused on his reps as a blocker, he’s done better than expected. He certainly has competed against the likes of Odafe Oweh better than Al Villanueva has. This is a tricky position. If Nick Boyle is on track to go in Vegas on opening night, I think it hurts Wolf’s chances. Oliver then becomes a more complementary part of the tight end room. If Boyle can’t go, it might hurt the chances for both Wolf and Oliver. A guy like Eric Tomlinson, who assumed Boyle’s role in the offense late in 2020, could get the nod.
Stock UP: Ty’Son Williams
Williams blowing up Anthony Averett on the sidelines yesterday was really not surprising for me after what I’ve seen from him in camp thus far. The scouting report on the UDFA rookie didn’t look too promising in regards to being able to absorb contact… run through defenders… play a physical style… catch passes… run between the tackles… and yet, I’ve checked every one of those boxes in just a week! I’ll say it now- don’t be shocked if Williams finds his way onto this Ravens roster in ’21.
Stock DOWN: Justice Hill
Hill isn’t a bad player, and certainly has a role in this offense, but he almost feels like Buck Allen to me- he can catch passes, not elusive or enough of a bully to carry the load for any prolonged period of time, and I think he’s peaked. This is it. Nothing I’ve seen thus far shows me a next level to his game.
TL’s Take: Williams has made a statement and his stock is on the uptick. I also agree with Adam that Hill is a bit reminiscent of Buck Allen. But a few things to keep in mind here. One, Hill is pretty solid in pass protection. Two, he’s a very good special teams player and if the Ravens lose Boykin to IR or worse, that’s a slight S/T void that Hill fills nicely. And lastly, Williams is the kind of player who the Ravens can slide to the Practice Squad.
Stock UP: Adrian Ealy
With Ronnie Stanley still sidelined, while Al Villanueva gets a few vet days in, Ealy has had plenty of opportunity to show coaches what the UDFA OT is capable of. Listen, this isn’t a ‘the next big OU OT for Baltimore’ review’ – this is simply saying that Ealy has shown the drive to improve, the ability to take the input of Joe D (and he’s given him plenty) and turn that into improvement on the field. He could make the roster as OT depth… could also stick on the PS.
Stock DOWN: Tyre Phillips
Phillips went from ‘solid shot at starting LG’ to ‘lets rotate him around and see where he doesn’t scare us.’ Don’t get me wrong- I think Phillips makes this roster- but he still plays extremely upright, struggles with a speed rush at times, and for every flashy rep that excites me? There’s two that I facepalm.
TL’s Take: Ealy has practice squad written all over him. I don’t think the Ravens swing tackle for 2021 is on the roster just yet. Count me in for that being EDC’s next clever move. Phillips has shown improvement but as Adam suggests, there are times when he gets tangled and his feet abandon him. My choices for ‘Stock UP’ & ‘DOWN’ in order are Ben Cleveland and Ben Powers.
Stock UP: Broderick Washington
Washington worried me coming into camp. We’ve seen the short leash of Daylon Mack in recent years and I didn’t want the same fate for the 2nd year product out of Texas Tech. Instead, what I’ve seen is a much more in shape Washington than last year’s camp, and a player that’s creating interior pressure at times, while holding the line on run plays.
Stock DOWN: Justin Ellis
Blame Washington for putting Ellis here if you really want. The defensive line unit has looked great thus far, but you can only keep so many bodies. With the jumps we’ve seen from Washington thus far, I think Jelly slides down the pecking order and finds himself on the wrong side of the bubble right now.
TL’s Take: Washington has been a pleasant surprise. After his domestic issues this offseason, his job was at risk, but apparently the alarm has gone off and Broderick is answering. He’s benefitting from the excellent mentoring provided by Calais Campbell. As for Ellis, I can’t say I’ve seen a decline in play, actually quite the opposite but pulling from Adam’s logic, that one man’s gain is another’s loss, I can see his point. But I think Ellis sticks around.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 4, 2021
Stock UP: Daelin Hayes
Everybody will continue to focus on rookie Odafe Oweh- and rightfully so, as he’s been a star in camp- but fellow rookie Daelin Hayes has shone in his own right, creating pressures and turning up ‘sacks’ a few times in shells last week. Even his ability to drop back in coverage surprised me this past week, and I think the Ravens found a kid with a bright future in Round 5.
Stock DOWN: Jaylon Ferguson
Ferguson was already on thin ice this season and needed to show why he belongs. The addition of Justin Houston only made things more challenging on Ferg. I will admit, he had a solid showing yesterday with a PBU in coverage and a noteworthy pressure or two… except those pressures were his same old bull rush. He hasn’t added any moves to his arsenal, and that’s what I’m concerned with in Year 3.
TL’s Take: Hayes is smart, instinctive and embracing coaching. It’s early but he looks like a draft day steal and a perfect fit for the Ravens schematically. Fergie is who he is. An average player who is a one-trick pony. I don’t see him as being any worse than he was in 2020 but all of the coach-speak about his improvement and understanding the defense better and therefore playing faster, is just that…coach-speak.
Stock UP: Chris Westry
You don’t hear a ton about Chris Westry- and that’s a good thing for him. Yes, CBs will get accolades for PBUs and INTs, but if Westry is doing his job and sticking to his man, there’s no ball coming his way to break up or pick- and that’s exactly what he’s been doing thus far. He’s a fringe candidate to make the roster, but a prime PS candidate.
Stock DOWN: Shawn Wade
Between Wade and FB/TE Ben Mason, somebody is ‘falling in a hole’ in the next few weeks to land on the IR. Early on, Wade took most reps outside, and struggled big time. He couldn’t stick with his man, didn’t show recovery speed, and ended up getting torched a few times. Of late, I’ve seen more slot from Wade and he’s done better, but I think he’s a year away from seeing any snaps on this defense, especially with Tavon Young healthy and ready to claim his throne in the slot and Khalil Dorsey making some noise as depth.
TL’s Take: I could have written the same exact thing that Adam has here. Westry has length (6’4″) and a wingspan that aids his ability to recover on a route. He’s been impressive. The issue here is that Wade can’t be hidden. He was arguably the Big Ten’s best DB in 2019 when he played slot. The Buckeye pedigree will draw attention and the Ravens are unlikely to expose him to waivers with the hopes of landing him on the PS. Westry on the other hand could make his way to the practice squad. Last season he was on the Cowboys’ PS and given their shaky secondary, the perception might be that if the Cowboys didn’t retain his rights, he must not be all that. Wade needs to ball out on teams, otherwise, as Adam suggests, that Ubaldo Jimenez parking lot pot hole awaits him.
Stock UP: Ar’Darius Washington
Washington is the only UDFA that I can see making this roster, and I genuinely believe has a chance to do so. The diminutive (5’8″) UDFA is flying all over the field, making plays in coverage, and creating backfield pressures. The kid literally looks like he’s been on the pro field for a few years with his play, and that’s pretty damn promising if you ask me!
Stock DOWN: Anthony Levine
Oh boy, this should go over well… listen, I’m not sure if CoCap is more of a Safety or a Linebacker, but I classified him here so deal with it. Levine (34) just looks his age on the field, and I think with so many young safeties flying around, it makes his ‘step slower’ almost look like 2 steps slower. But how many safeties will the Ravens keep? If Stephens and Washington stick, what does it mean for Levine?
TL’s Take: Washington’s instincts and football IQ are impressive. He’s been really strong as a blitzer and when closing in on short to intermediate routes. On the backend, there’s work to be done and his stature and less than ideal speed make it challenging for him to recover. He could be considered a poor man’s Honey Badger, aka Tyrann Mathieu, but I’d agree, his stock is on the rise. I’d also throw in Brandon Stephens as a riser at the position. Given that he’s two years removed from being a RB then a CB at SMU, his movements and backpedal are smooth. His selection in the third round was a head-scratcher for me. I’m not scratching anymore. As for Levine, he’s a pro’s pro, a great teammate and leader and I’d be shocked if he isn’t part of the 2021 roster. He’s been a timely blitzer during camp and he’s essential to special teams. If the Ravens are forced to rely upon him in coverage this season, that’s a bad sign. But Harbs & Co. aren’t looking for him in that role.