The Ravens are 13 practices into training camp and now they finally get an opportunity to compete against players on another roster when they host the Saints tomorrow night at The Bank. The game is meaningful to players competing for a roster spot. It’s an opportunity to shine on a bigger stage than the field of dreams at the Under Armour Performance Center. That said, fans should be mindful that the practices carry weight – it’s why you see a preseason game star being released in favor of another player who has performed consistently at One Winning Drive. It’s why we still focus in on practice. Coaches are seeking players that they can trust because it’s a reflection upon them.
But make no mistake about it, some jobs could be lost based upon the performances of Saturday night. Players who are neck-and-neck may have their career paths altered by the way they execute during the first of three preseason auditions. On Tuesday the 17th the roster will be trimmed to 85 from 90. On the 24th it gets pared down to 80. And then The Turk gets really busy on the 31st when all teams need to be in compliance with the 53 player roster.
So with all that said, let’s dive into the latest stock report to reveal whose stock is climbing and whose might be tumbling down.
Stock Up: Trace McSorley
McSorley hasn’t done anything special to wrestle away the No. 2 job from Tyler Huntley but the NFL is a, “what have you done for me lately” business, particularly at this time of year. This past Thursday, Trace was the better of the two quarterbacks and if practice reps are any indication (they are), McSorley had a much bigger workload which suggests he’s ahead in the pecking order. But the race is a close one and could be determined by the preseason games. It could also determine whether or not the Ravens will go with two or three quarterbacks to start the season.
Stock Down: Tyler Huntley
Training camp is all about stacking plus performances and while Huntley from my vantage point had the upper hand entering this week, he’s lost momentum due to some uneven practices. He might have an advantage however going into the game against the Saints. His superior speed may allow him to shine a bit more than Trace given the current state of the team’s offensive line. They look like they’re playing in mud at times and Huntley’s escapability might be the formula needed to make a big play on the fly when things break down.
Adam Bonaccorsi’s (“AB”) Take:
Stock Up: McSorley
As much as it pains me- because I simply think McSorley is not a viable clipboard holder in the NFL- the former Nittany Lion goes into the first preseason game with a notable advantage, and a rising stock. Like TL said, he hasn’t done anything exceptional to command the QB2 role… he’s just… screwed up less?
Stock Down: Huntley
For Tyler Huntley, any shot at QB2 on this team largely depends on how he commands the offense in these three preseason games. He has great arm talent, and fantastic running ability, but he continues to force throws that just aren’t connecting with his receivers, which has hurt his stock notably. While practice dictates the play a bit more (pass on a pass play, don’t adlib), Huntley’s ability to extend plays during these next few preseason games could buy his way into the good graces of coaching & trend back in the right direction.
Stock Up: James Proche
You’ve all heard and read the reports about the Ravens second-year receiver from SMU. His camp has been arguably the best of all 90 players thus far, particularly when expectations and results are compared and contrasted. His camp performances have been so good and consistent that some are now wondering if he’s surpassed Devin Duvernay on the depth chart. They are different players and there’s a definitive role for each but for now, Proche’s is like a Tesla stock. It just keeps climbing.
Stock Down: Deon Cain
The former Clemson Tiger has been a steady performer throughout camp, particularly as a deep ball threat even while competing against the likes of Marlon Humphrey. But an undisclosed injury has kept him on the shelf this week and he’s unlikely to see time against the Saints. He was a slight longshot to make the team anyway, but his inactivity might be a way for the Ravens to hide him enough to sneak him onto the practice squad – a position that he’s clearly earned.
Stock Up: Binjimen Victor
I didn’t want to go Proche here because TL already took that route! Instead, I’m starting to look at who stands the best chance of being recalled to the roster as a 6th wideout during Rashod Bateman’s healing process. Miles Boykin would be obvious… if he was on the field. Even Deon Cain would make some sense, but again- injured. So who is the next man up? Binjimen Victor, who has been steady in his routes, can elevate with the best of them, and has shown relatively consistent hands (maybe 2 drops all of camp). If he continues to stack days while the likes of Cain & Boykin are out, it’ll only help his case.
Stock Down: Hollywood Brown
To be clear- this is *not* hitting the panic button! Simply an observation from a different angle, as ‘stock down’ is just an observation of who is falling down the pecking order… Look at the last few weeks worth of notes and you’ll see two consistents within this unit- Sammy Watkins & James Proche look phenomenal. So it stands to reason that the longer Hollywood Brown spends time on the sidelines, it gives Lamar Jackson more time with two phenomenal route runners with great hands, and build further rapport. What does that mean for Brown? In my eyes, the trend isn’t going to favor him and we could see a case where Lamar finds a new favorite option (Watkins) outside of Andrews.
Stock Up: Josh Oliver
Oliver hasn’t been a standout, but he has shined more than any tight end not named Mark Andrews by virtue of his ability to make high point catches all over the field. He’s an inviting red zone target and clearly the best receiving TE among the reserves. If you’re looking for a point of focus in Saturday’s game, how Oliver supports the run game is of interest. If he does well there, coupled with his skillset as a pass catcher, the 3rd tight end job is his to lose.
Stock Down: Tony Poljan
Poljan is a plodder and not a very smooth player. He seems to labor through his routes which makes him a rather easy player to cover. He possesses a solid pair of mitts but he isn’t a very inviting target given that he struggles to gain separation. He needs to be schemed open.
Stock Up: Josh Oliver
I can’t not agree here. Oliver has turned it up big time this past week with soft hands and big catches. My favorite play this past week was undoubtedly high pointing a pass in the back of the end zone, toe-tapping and controls the ball over his head, while Anthony Averett made a valiant effort to bring him down… without even moving Oliver an inch.
Stock Down: Ben Mason
I’m calling Mason a Tight End here, because that’s how I believe he’ll be used in this offense, and less of a Ricard-type. Simply put, the Day 3 draft pick has done nothing of significance, and sits fairly low on the Tight End totem pole. I’m genuinely struggling to see how he can make this roster, and think he’s best fit to be cut and assigned to the Practice Squad, where I don’t think anybody would even think about snatching him up. Give him a year to develop, and if he doesn’t? STOP DRAFTING MICHIGAN PLAYERS.
Stock Up: Justice Hill
Some have questioned whether Hill’s job is in jeopardy given the plus performances of Ty’Son Williams during camp. And while that still remains a possibility, Hill’s well-rounded skillset as a receiver, pass blocker and special teams player, make him a difficult cut for a head coach whose roots are steeped in special teams. Hill has been featured in goal line situations during camp and as a featured back on jet sweeps. He still looks like a runner who has a little too much east-and-west wiggle, and lacks decisiveness, but his versatility can’t be ignored – well unless of course Williams bulldozes tacklers during the fake games and he can provide some game as a teamer.
Stock Down: Nate McCrary
Nate’s ambition has to be to show up enough on film to land a job on some team’s practice squad. This week a screen pass caromed off his hands and into the waiting arms of LB Kristian Welch who rambled in for the score. These are not the plays he hoped would show up on film but unfortunately it did. The UDFA from the great Saginaw Valley State has slightly better chance than Lloyd does with Mary (Dumb & Dumber).
Stock Up: Justice Hill
He catches screens… and does something with it. That’s genuinely all you need to say to feel good about Hill.
Stock Down: McCrary
Simple process of elimination here. Dobbins, Gus and Hill have looked great. Ty’Son Williams has been absolutely solid and hasn’t given me any reason to shun him this week. Therefore? McCrary gets the stock down this week.
Stock Up: Trystan Colon
With Bradley Bozeman moving to center and given Patrick Mekari’s versatility, you had to wonder if the Ravens would have room for Colon. But he’s been consistent throughout camp and yesterday he spent some time at left guard. Snaps have been on point and in the Ravens universe, that’s a big plus given the 2020 debacle in that department.
Stock Down: Alejandro Villanueva
Make no mistake about it, Al will be the Ravens starting right tackle in 2021. But he hasn’t exactly been a bright spot across the team’s struggling offensive front. He’s been beaten by speed and his adjustment to the right side has been anything but smooth. He has also lost some practice time due to nagging injuries. I’d label him an early disappointment through 13 days of camp.
Stock Up: Ben Powers
The longer Kevin Zeitler is out (which doesn’t appear to be much longer) the more looks Powers is getting, and handling his business well. But here’s the kicker- I think that ‘stock up’ is really stock up for the RAVENS. Powers was a bubble guy for me a week ago, and he didn’t figure into the OL plans for what I looked for going into the season. His lack of positional flexibility doesn’t help his cause vs a Bredeson, Mekari, or Tyre Phillips (even Colon has seen some OG to expand his role). However, if Powers continues to show well during the preseason games? I can see the Ravens moving him for a Day 3 pick, a la Jermaine Eluemunor two years ago.
Stock Down: Ben Cleveland
Cleveland just looks stiff… when he’s out there. His struggles on the field are now marrying up with missed time (three straight practices) and as a rookie, that’s quite literally a worst case scenario. A guy that I once thought was a lock for the starting Left Guard spot is more likely a backup at this juncture… behind who? I’m still unsure.
Stock Up: Aaron Crawford
The former North Carolina Tarheel turned a few heads last season, earning a spot on the practice squad and he was elevated to active status during the team’s “COVID” game against the Steelers last December. He’s shown some strength at the point of attack during camp although he could still get lost in a numbers game. The Ravens have a knack for developing talent like Crawford’s. It wouldn’t be a shocker to see him claimed if exposed to waivers.
Stock Down: Jovan Swann
Not that the rookie from Indiana ever had a chance on this roster, not that his stock was ever on the uptick, but if I had to pick a player in this group taking a dive, why not a Swann? He’s a JAG.
Stock Up: Chris Smith
While Smith shouldn’t be any more than a rotational/depth piece on this Defensive Line, he’s showed me that he plans to earn a prolonged stay in Baltimore with his play thus far. He’s done well filling lanes to stuff the run, doesn’t necessarily get into the backfield, but I think we’ll hear his name called a few times tomorrow (which likely draws a few ‘who is that?’ from fans).
Stock Down: Justin Ellis
Ellis is still a solid player in his own right, but the youth of this defensive line is starting to show up, and that alone could be Jelly’s undoing here in Baltimore.
Stock Up: L.J. Fort
During individual drills, I’ve heard linebackers coach Rob Ryan outwardly admire Fort’s attention to detail and his technically sound approach to tackling and shedding blockers. He’s steady, heady and always ready to assume more responsibility. He’s Ryan’s utility infielder and a valuable guy to have around. He sniffs out ball carries well, doesn’t get caught in the wash and is an accomplished player in coverage. Plus he’s a guy who provides outstanding value given his cap number of $988K.
Stock Down: Chris Board
Board’s job is not in jeopardy by any stretch, but after a quick start to camp, he didn’t flashed as much during Week 2. But he remains a valued player who provides quality depth.
Stock Up: Patrick Queen
I know, I know… how much higher can the former first round pick go? But this stock up is more of an NFL-wide comp. Queen just looks faster sideline-to-sideline, and has a nose for the backfield like I haven’t seen from him thus far as a Raven. I have high hopes for a year two BOOM from the now 22 years young Queen.
Stock Down: Kristian Welch
I know that Welch had a pick off a deflected ball yesterday, but that play was an anomaly and not the norm based on what I’ve seen so far. Welch is usually the guy on the wrong side of a big pass play to one of the Tight Ends, a step behind on a running play, and quite frankly if you told me he was going to be cut today to make room for another wideout since the Ravens are so short handed? I wouldn’t be shocked at all.
Stock Up: Anthony Averett
Anthony had a slow start to camp given some nagging injuries that prevented him from initially passing the team’s conditioning test. But once that was behind him, AA got it into gear and has played with confidence even against the best Ravens receivers. AA had a strong finish to his 2020 season and now that he’s back on the practice field, he’s picked up where he left off.
Stock Down: Davontae Harris
When I see Harris on the field, somehow I always revert back to the MNF game in Cleveland during which Baker Mayfield didn’t see No. 33. He saw a bullseye. Nothing that Harris has done in camp has erased that memory from my mind. If there’s a wide open receiver on the field, chances are somewhere nearby, 33 is lagging behind.
Stock Up: Chris Westry
Listen, I’m going to have Westry as my ‘Stock Up’ corner every week until he makes the 53, and we can all go back to my first takes of Westry at OTAs and do the whole Paul Rudd “hey look at us… who would’ve thought” thing. Westry has been a camp star. He’s breaking up passes, playing stickier than a Gerrit Cole fastball (that’s a Spider Tack joke, enjoy), and uses his size so damn well.
Stock Down: Iman Marshall
Marshall missed OTAs and the start of Training Camp due to recovery from a 2020 injury, came back to play so-so, and then back to missing days at camp. That fella in my stock up? He’s going to take Biggie’s roster spot. Book it.
Stock Up: Brandon Stephens
Stephens is a bit of a Swiss Army knife in coach Chris Hewitt’s secondary. He’s played well in man coverage on the boundary, doesn’t look overwhelmed by smaller, shifty slot receivers and he’s spent some time at safety, holding his own. Brandon is a smooth athlete and he has a high ceiling. He has a learning curve ahead but he very well could be DeShon Elliott’s successor if the Ravens fourth-year safety leaves for greener pastures in 2022.
Stock Down: Jordan Richards
Richards is a valuable contributor on special teams but as a safety, he’s a bit stiff and vulnerable to an opponent with average to above average change of direction skills. If a younger player (like Stephens) can become a productive player for S/T coach Chris Horton and assume Richards’ role, the 7-year vet could be at risk.
Stock Up: Ar’Darius Washington
I know. He’s the smallest player on a Ravens roster that already has a 5’9″ Hollywood Brown & a 5’9″ Khalil Dorsey. But Washington is a bulldog. He doesn’t get intimidated by bigger receivers, he’s not afraid to take on a Tight End on the edge when blitzing, and he makes his fair share of plays in camp. I’m not suggesting he ‘s making the roster but I will definitively say that the rookie has the greatest shot to make the roster out of the UDFA crop this year.
Stock Down: Shawn Wade
To be honest? Khalil Dorsey being injured is the only reason I think Wade has a shot at making this roster. If Dorsey comes back in short order? I’m ready to stash Wade on the Phantom IR for a year, because the kid isn’t going to be a contributor this season. He struggles mightily playing outside, and so far in camp, he’s shown nothing to be remotely better than Dorsey (who was a riser for me prior to his injury a few days ago) and do the Ravens really need (3) slot-specific corners?