Who’s Stock is Up? Who’s Stock is Down?
With two preseason games in the books, along with three solid weeks of camp, the Ravens roster is really starting to take shape.
Stock Up: Tyler Huntley
The only way Huntley’s stock could’ve fallen in a two-man race (with one injured party) would’ve been an abysmal showing on Saturday against the Panthers. While the second year signal caller out of Utah started with a slow 0-for-4 and a tip-drill pick, he ended with a solid showing on the day. Huntley has struggled with picks in camp of late, and had the ill-advised fumble last week against the Saints, so Saturday’s performance really should boost his stock into near ‘lock’ status.
Stock Down: Trace McSorley
There’s simply nothing Trace can do about it. You just can’t make the club from the tub.
Tony Lombardi’s (“TL”) Take: Agreed, not much to write about here. My only gripe since camp started back on July 28 is that the Ravens have been unable to get their receivers involved due to the issues across the offensive line. Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed and the Ravens passing game very much, remains a work in progress.
Stock Up: Ben Bredeson
Ben Bredeson held his own at RG throughout Saturday’s game, barring the first three drives with Kevin Zeitler back in action. While it’s been quiet on the focus for iOL depth outside of the the Left Guard position (Phillips vs Cleveland vs Powers), it seems that Bredeson has all but secured himself a role here, and likely a roster spot.
Stock Down: Ben Powers
I’ve been saying since camp started that there’s simply no way the Ravens keep all three Bens on the line (Powers, Bredeson & Cleveland), with Powers the most likely to be moved via trade. As of Saturday’s turnstile of a showing at Left Guard? I’m wondering if he won’t end up outright cut…
TL’s Take: Powers has never become the player that most thought he would be — an above average guard. But when given the chance on game day, he’s been serviceable. That said, he’s not the best practice player. Bredeson was nearly discarded by the team in 2020, exposed to pilfering from other teams who opted to pass on his services. I don’t think either player is held in high regard and their respective ceilings seem to be no more than adequate reserves. Tyre Phillips is better than either and eventually Ben Cleveland will be as well. Plus I’m not so sure that in a pinch, the Ravens aren’t better with Trystan Colon at center and Brad Bozeman at LG.
Stock Up: Tylan Wallace
There hasn’t been much chatter about Wallace in camp thus far, but he’s been solid when called upon (and had a phenomenal over the shoulder deep ball reception earlier last week too!) and finally got a chance to show up for everyone to see on Saturday with a great catch at the far sidelines, a little shimmy and a shake, then took off downfield for a 25 yard scamper. While Wallace may be this years Proche (rookie who won’t see a ton of time) it’s great to see promise for those instances he’ll be called upon.
Stock Down: Devin Duvernay
Listen, I’m not suggesting Duv doesn’t make this team- I’m simply saying he’s been relatively quiet. My concern is simply how involved he’ll be in this offense this year if he’s rarely getting looks in this preseason, and doesn’t have much to speak of in camp either. Solid player, but with so many star wideouts sidelined, shouldn’t his star shine brighter?
TL’s Take: During OTA’s Wallace looked a bit lost. Too many times he wasn’t properly aligned pre-snap and had to be realigned by the quarterback. Early on in camp, the same issues surfaced. But somewhere along the line, the playbook began to register and Wallace began to play with more confidence. I think that’s why you see him emerging now after a few months in the system.
As for Duvernay, the way they’ve used him in practice is a bit like a specialist. He’s involved in bubble screens, jet sweeps and quick slants, all options to employ his running skills. Beyond that, he hasn’t flashed all that much. He has a role on the team but it’s not as a polished pass catcher who has mastered the route tree. There seems to be some limitations to his game at this point in his career.
Stock Up: Eric Tomlinson
I could’ve gone with reception-machine Josh Oliver here, but didn’t want to double dip after my last stock report… so let’s go with the guy who I’m starting to believe makes this roster with ease. Why? For starters, Nick Boyle still isn’t even a blip on the radar in terms of returning, and with only three weeks til the Ravens regular season kicks off? It’s simply not going to be enough time to return to the lineup, in my opinion. With that said, the Ravens need a bulldozer in the image of Boyle to step in, and while rookie Ben Mason might be that option? Eric Tomlinson makes so much more sense. Proven, experience in this system, and he’s been getting the looks Boyle typically would, while Mason is relegated to mop up duty.
Stock Down: Ben Mason
I went back to the well, didn’t I? Listen, Mason isn’t going to get cut… I don’t think. I think it’s more likely he finds a pothole to step into and end up on the IR. Then again, the Ravens could conceivably cut Mason and slap him on the Practice Squad, where I genuinely believe he’ll be safe. As of now, Mason is still the bottom of the barrel for the Tight End group based on what I see. I just don’t know how you can justify rostering him and cutting better talent.
TL’s Take: With the uncertainty surrounding Nick Boyle, Tomlinson looks like a solid pinch hitter. He’s done it before in 2020, he’ll likely do it again to start 2021. I expect Boyle to start the season on IR. Tomlinson could be released with a wink-wink to re-join the team by Labor Day. As for Mason, nothing that he’s done makes me stop and think, “Oh, now I understand the draft pick!” I still don’t, Jack Harbaugh’s favorite or not. Maybe that pothole awaits. Maybe he just gets cut and he clears and the Ravens bring him back on to the practice squad. In the modern era with fullbacks listed among the endangered species, there’s a reason he was projected to be an undrafted free agent.
Stock Up: Nate McCrary
You could’ve gone McCrary or Ty’Son Williams here and both make sense, but I’ll take on McCrary as I found it interesting that he saw the earlier looks in Saturday’s preseason game versus Williams. Of course, this could be the plan to swap the two undrafted free agents to see how both fare, but McCrary held his own, with a solid 64 yards on 15 carries with a score to boot! Between McCrary and Williams, one could conceivably make this roster.
Stock Down: Justice Hill
Just like McSorley, Hill can’t make the club from the tub. Equally as pressing here for Hill, the tandem of UDFA running backs have impressed, and have shown that there’s a very marginal gap between Hill, Williams and McCrary. If the team covets the latter two (and their contracts) Hill could be yet another 2018 draft class casualty.
TL’s Take: When the Ravens made the switch to Lamar Jackson back in 2018, an accompanying move was to bench Alex Collins in favor of Gus Edwards. Obviously the coaching staff saw Gus as a better complementary player to the skill set of Lamar. They were right. The same forces may be at play today. Ty’Son Williams looks like the same kind of north/south runner that Gus is while Hill has a habit of stringing plays outside — plays that too often go nowhere. If the Ravens can adequately fill Hill’s role on special teams, and the third-string RB must be part of the S/T mix, EDC can shed the $1.035M cap figure that Hill carries and save a few cap dollars.
Stock Up: Chris Smith
Smith had a monster of a sack on Will Grier this past Saturday coupled with some solid run stuffing, and continues to make a strong case for backend depth on this line. I don’t necessarily think he’s locked himself in, but one more performance like this next week could give the Ravens reason to decide between Smith and Jelly.
Stock Down: Justin Madubuike
I feel like I need a lot of caveats today! This is nothing disparaging about Mads, nor suggesting he’s falling off a cliff and he’s looked atrocious! This is simply a notion that Saturday’s performance where he was just constantly eaten up at the LOS wasn’t the follow up performance I had hoped to see after a more promising game against the Saints.
TL’s Take: Smith is an interesting call here and I like him for the team if he can provide an interior rush like that of Pernell McPhee, during obvious passing situations. How his status plays out will be very interesting but to his credit, Smith is making it that way. Another choice for “Stock Up” would be Broderick Washington. He’s been productive in camp and during the preseason games, plus I admire a guy who when faced with adversity, tackles it head-on. So far, given his summer domestic issue, he’s done exactly that.
As for stock down, if forced to pick one I’ll choose Derek Wolfe. Granted his pedestrian efforts this summer are probably just his way of preparing for the season. He was a big time contributor down the stretch in 2020 and there’s no reason to expect a drop off, right? But I have to say, he’s been very stealth in August and I wonder if that ultimately results in a slow start to the season.
Stock Up: Jaylon Ferguson
Listen, I didn’t expect this type of play from Ferguson, but ever since Justin Houston signed it’s almost like a fire was lit under Ferg’s pads, and he’s starting to figure things out… who knew that’s all it would take?! On Saturday, I watched the kid use variable speeds to get around the Left Tackle for the Panthers, as I was drawn into a slow golf clap. He’s starting to figure it out… which should be terrifying for opposing defenses to think the Ravens could have even more pass rush depth on this roster.
Stock Down: Tyus Bowser?
I’m not suggesting anything totally negative here, but for a stock down OLB, I found myself questioning who I could even drop in this category. Everybody has been solid and impressive in flashes throughout the preseason thus far… but we’ll go with Bowser after Saturday’s game. I watched him chasing too much and getting eaten up by blockers with ease in his limited time on the field. I don’t think it means much of anything… but not what you hope to see from the pass rusher you opted to re-sign this offseason.
TL’s Take: The coaching staff was quick to point out during OTA’s that Fergie was really beginning to embrace the playbook. Count me among you who thought that was simply “coach speak”. And early on it seemed that way. Fergie looked like a JAG. But as Adam points out, he’s come on as of late. Sometimes facing the NFL abyss (The Turk) can be motivational.
Stock Up: A guy who isn’t on this roster right now.
With the loss of LJ Fort to injury, the Ravens will be looking to replace his role as defensive depth and Special Teams aficionado. Looking at this Ravens roster, I’m genuinely not sure ‘that guy’ exists. They basically have Kristian Welch and an injured Otaro Alaka. Personally, Welch isn’t a guy I’m comfortable with on defense, and as such, I think the Ravens will be looking for a free agent option or a trade target to fill the role (for a late pick, at best).
Stock Down: LJ Fort
Unfortunately for Fort, an ACL injury- which it appears to be- will end his 2021 campaign. Can’t bottom out the stock any harder.
TL’s Take: LJ’s loss was a big one. He’s an extremely dependable reserve ILB who comes at a very affordable price. Plus he’s a big teams contributor. His loss could help secure the roster spot of another player who is key to Special Teams, (Hill, Levine come to mind), particularly after the release of Jordan Richards. As for LJ’s replacement, the name of K.J. Wright has been mentioned but money is likely to be an issue.
Stock Up: Anthony Averett
Listen, how much higher can your stock be than having your coach suggest you’re the third best cornerback on the team, behind Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters? And suggesting you have starter potential? And uses the phrase ‘all pro talent???’ And yes, of course I attribute that very specific comment by Wink Martindale to my observation not even 24 hours earlier that Chris Westry was clearly the third best corner on the Ravens. Regardless, good for Averett, and good for the Ravens (especially if pumping his stock is a ploy to increase possible trade value for a player in the final year of his deal that likely doesn’t get extended).
Stock Down: Chris Westry
He gave up a deep shot to Terrace Marshall Jr on a 3rd & long inside Carolina’s 20 yard line on Saturday. I got bombarded for it… but guess what? Jokes on all of you because I said TMJ would be a top talent from this past rookie receiver class, so I still look brilliant either way! CB3 now CB4 in your hearts. He’ll be back to CB3 in no time.
TL’s Take: Westry has had a terrific camp but AB’s constant lauding of the 2nd-year corner makes me wonder if he’s vying to be Westry’s agent 😉 Westry makes the team but I’m pretty sure that Averett and Jimmy Smith get the call before the former Kentucky Wildcat. As for Averett, he’s played with more confidence and has had his best camp to date.
Stock Up: Nigel Warrior
The Ravens have a pair of starting safeties in Deshon Elliott (his stock was already too high for this discussion) and Chuck Clark, and we’ve heard plenty about Ar’Darius Washington’s rise and Brandon Stephens exciting play thus far…. hell, we even had a Geno Stone two-pick performance last week… totally almost forgot Anthony Levine Sr as well… and now we get Nigel Warrior showing out in Carolina? The Ravens have an embarrassment of riches at Safety… I’d assume this is one of those positions where Eric DeCosta and the Ravens coaching staff will have some difficult decisions to make…
Stock Down: CoCap
I’ll get verbally accosted for this one and I don’t care because the truth sometimes hurts and I’m not afraid to say it… could we be seeing the end of CoCap’s time in Baltimore? I just mentioned the depth of this Safety group is utterly insane (by the way, Jimmy Smith can factor in here too) so which would you prefer? Keeping Anthony Levine Sr but sacrificing cheap youthful depth? Or keeping these kids with star potential around while losing a veteran presence? I’ll be genuinely curious to see…
TL’s Take: AB is right! There will be some difficult decisions to make at safety. Captain status has its value and no one can deny Levine’s importance to special teams. But young, inexpensive talent is essential for a team that will soon have to shell out big dollars for their quarterback and tight end. Every cap dollar saved helps. Warrior and Washington are better defenders at this point in their careers. This is another situation in which an unavailable player at another position (LJ Fort) could save another man’s roster spot. Really tough decision here but I think that the league has to some extent, voided the importance of special teams with their rules that emphasize player safety. And indirectly, the rules have eroded at the value of Anthony Levine, Sr.