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Framing the Baltimore Ravens Roster Competition

The 53 player final roster limit will make it difficult for the Ravens to retain all the worthy players at their deepest positions

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The Baltimore Ravens have seen the departure of six free agents who made the original 2015 roster.  They have added three outside free agents and an eleven player draft class.  This imbalance will force the Ravens to make some tough decisions in late August and early September.  The front office and coaching staff will either have to release some quality veteran players or relegate a few promising young players from their recent draft classes when they construct the final 53-man roster.

To gain a better perspective on how the final roster will shape up, let's take a look at the precedent set over the last three seasons by position:

QUARTERBACK:

2 in 2013, 2 in 2014, 2 in 2015

Three year average of 2

2016 Prediction - Two

RUNNING BACK & FULLBACK:

4 in 2013, 4 in 2014, 4 in 2015

Three year average of 4

2016 Prediction - Four

OFFENSIVE LINE:

9 in 2013, 9 in 2014, 8 in 2015

Three year average of 8.7

2016 Prediction - Eight

TIGHT END:

3 in 2013, 3 in 2014, 3 in 2015

Three year average of 3

2016 Prediction - Four

WIDE RECEIVER:

6 in 2013, 7 in 2014, 6 in 2015

Three year average of 6.3

2016 Prediction - Six

SPECIALISTS:

3 in 2013, 3 in 2014, 3 in 2015

Three year average of 3

2016 Prediction - Three

DEFENSIVE LINE:

7 in 2013, 5 in 2014, 8 in 2015

Three year average of 6.7

2016 Prediction - Seven

INSIDE LINEBACKER:

4 in 2013, 6 in 2014, 5 in 2015

Three year average of 5

2016 Prediction - Four

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER:

5 in 2013, 4 in 2014, 4 in 2014

Three year average of 4.3

2016 Prediction - Five

CORNERBACK:

4 in 2013, 4 in 2014, 5 in 2015

Three year average of 4.3

2016 Prediction - Five

SAFETY:

5 in 2013, 6 in 2014, 5 in 2015

Three year average of 5.3

2016 Prediction - Five

These early predictions show just how tight the roster crunch should be.  Quarterback and Specialist seem locked in at their historic levels.  The addition of Ben Watson and the return of Dennis Pitta, along with quality young players Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams make an increase to four tight ends a strong probability.  It seems unlikely the Ravens will carry less than eight offensive lineman, even if Eugene Monroe is jettisoned.

These numbers leave wide receiver and running back at their normal levels of six and four respectively.  That puts capable players such as Jeremy Butler, Chris Moore, Keenan Reynolds, Michael Campanaro, Darren Waller, Terrance West, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Trent Richardson and even Justin Forsett firmly on the roster bubble.

On defense, five cornerbacks seems like a prudent prediction.  Jimmy Smith, Shareece Wright, Tavon Young and Will Davis look like locks, leaving veteran Kyle Arrington to compete with rookie Maurice Canady and possibly another yet to be added veteran free agent for the final spot.  Five safeties also seems probable, setting up a battle between Lardarius Webb, Kendrick Lewis, Matt Elam, Terrance Brooks and Anthony Levine for four roster spots.

Outside linebacker should end up at five, with Kamalei Correa and Za'Darius Smith backing up veteran stalwarts Suggs and Dumervil.  This would pit rookie draft pick Matt Judon against undrafted free agent Victor Ochi for the usual gameday inactive developmental edge rusher spot.  A four man rotation at defensive tackle looks like a good bet, which would allocate seven roster spots to defensive ends and inside linebackers combined.  The Ravens could end up with three defensive ends and four inside linebackers or two ends and five inside linebackers, setting up a possible direct completion between Brent Urban and Arthur Brown for the final slot to round of the defensive front seven, especially if another veteran linebacker is brought in over the summer.

The Ravens front office has done a superb job in assembling depth over the last few seasons and the roster projections are narrow even before any late free agent signings or impressive preseason performances from the undrafted rookie crop.  The is a very good chance Ravens fans will be surprised at some of the players released this offseason.  Whether those surprises are veterans such as Eugene Monroe, Lardarius Webb, Kyle Arrington and Justin Forsett who appear safe at the moment, developing young veterans who have shown glimpses of potential like Brent Urban, Jeremy Butler, Terrance West, Arthur Brown, Terrance Brooks and Matt Elam, or recently drafted rookies including Keenan Reynolds, Maurice Canady, Matt Judon, Alex Lewis and Chris Moore, someone 'deserving' of an opportunity on the roster will not make the cut.

Get ready for a fierce roster competition this summer.  May the best men win.