When you think of the Baltimore Ravens, do you think of the big name guys at the skill positions or do you think of the22 starting positions? When a player leaves via free agency or is released, do you just look for the one guy who might take his spot? When you are trying to decided who the Ravens should draft in a couple of weeks, are you just looking at the team's obvious vacancies?
The Ravens are proof-positive of the football use of the term, "next man up," as they have been able to "plug-and-play" guys into spots previously occupied by players good enough to be lured away in free agency by other teams offering huge paydays. Now, after losing three key starters (Ben Grubbs, Jarret Johnson, Cory Redding) and a bunch of other role players (Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura, Lee Evans, Brandon McKinney), the team must look even deeper into their roster before deciding what to do in the draft or future free agency signings.
Most fans are well aware of the probability of utilizing guys such as Pernell McPhee, Arthur Jones, Paul Kruger, Albert McClellan and even Tandon doss to plug the apparent holes, but what about the rest of the roster? There are a bunch of other guys who round out the Ravens roster that either play on special teams or barely at all that the team thinks highly enough of to provide them roster spots and a salary, and most if not all of these players were stars on the collegiate level.
For example, while people know of offensive linemen mentioned as possible future replacements along the line, including Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood, there are also guards Howard Barbieri, Justin Boren and center Cecil Newton (Cam's brother) to consider. At wide receiver, fans are interested in finally seeing what guys like Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams and David Reed can do if given the chance. However, the Ravens also have Rodney Bradley, Phillip Livas, Patrick Williams as receivers on their roster.
Bradley, specifically, was headed towards being a top of the draft selection at Hawaii before breaking his leg and dropping of the map. The Ravens signed him as an undrafted free agent and then released him but re-signed him late in the season, meaning there is something about him that continues to interest the team.
Defensively, while Kruger, McClellan and even Sergio Kindle might be looked at to fill the loss of Double-J, there's still Cody Glenn, Chavis Williams, Edgar Jones and Josh Bynes listed as linebackers on their roster. Bynes is like Rodney Bradley, in that he was signed after last year's draft and released, then re-signed as the season progressed. Bynes was a team captain and the leading tackler for 2011 National Champion Auburn Tigers, which has to mean something for a guy playing in the SEC.
In addition, do not forget that the Ravens thought highly enough of former UNC defensive end Michael McAdoo to sign him as a free agent late last summer after the NFL's Supplemental Draft. At 6'7" and 245 pounds, he offers intriguing possibilities as a pass rusher from both the OLB or DE positions.
While all of this does not really mean anything since the way the Ravens are looking at this month's draft as a "draft of depth," it shows that there are quality players stashed perhaps deeper on the roster than most people are aware of, guys who if given the chance especially with a full off-season and Training Camp, may develop to the point of being solid contributors in 2012 and beyond.