The Ravens issued a “You Pick the Team” competition where fans could pick who they thought would make the 53 man roster. The response that was the closest to the actual roster would win a prize that included pregame sideline passes, an autographed Joe Flacco jersey, and club seats to a game. I entered just after the Saints game feeling pretty confident that I would win.
A little less than 48 hours later, I have burned the printed out copy of my entry. This tweet pretty much sums up the feeling.
I don't claim to be an expert, but the Ravens roster is turning out more difficult than an NCAA Bracket. Mine was busted long ago.— Kyle P Barber (@BMoreBeatdown) September 3, 2016
Right at the 4:00 p.m. deadline, the Ravens unleashed a flurry of cuts, wrapping up what has utterly been an incredibly surprising day in Baltimore.
One of the most surprising the Ravens cutting Justin Forsett. I have previously written about Forsett being a possibly surprise cut, as well as being a trade candidate. I didn’t actually expect this happen.
Despite the amazing young talent the Ravens have on the roster at running back, Forsett is by far and away the best pass blocking back on the team. The young guys will thus need to fill that void. Don’t be surprised to see Flacco get sacked due to missed running back blocks in the first few weeks as Terrance West and others get situated.
Speaking of West, look for the Towson product to be the Week 1 starter against the Bills. West generated a lot of buzz in the preseason as potentially earning the starting nod. Again, I don’t think anyone actually expected this to happen.
Despite this, I’m looking forward to the return of Kenneth Dixon. When Dixon returns, I think he will have a fantastic opportunity to take the reigns on the running backs and be the bell cow three down back that everyone eventually expects him to be. West is good, but Dixon could be special. The Ravens will likely use a committee system with the running backs this year no matter who the designated starter is, until someone clearly separates themselves.
Another surprising cut is safety Terrence Brooks. The former Florida State Seminole was a major impact player against the Saints on Thursday. The knock on Brooks has always been his struggles in pass coverage, and that likely is the reason he was cut. The Ravens will start Eric Weddle and Lardarius Webb at safety with Kendrick Lewis, Matt Elam, and Anthony Levine serving as the backups. (Note: That is based on my prediction of Levine being the Ravens Deone Buccannon) The fact that Elam made it over Brooks is surprising in its own right.
Jeremy Butler both found himself on the outside looking in once the dust settled. He had been said to be a lock to make the roster. Michael Campanaro was waived with an injury designation, meaning that yet another player who was seemingly a lock to make the roster is gone.
Oh yeah, and the Ravens now have no kick returner (at the time of this post there is no confirmation on Devin Hester’s status). Suddenly, it seems the Ravens will only keep five receivers instead of a projected seven. The group will likely consist of Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, and Chris Moore. It seems strange since the Ravens were exposed for a lack of depth at wide receiver last year and now the Ravens will keep just five this year.
The five the Ravens will keep are clearly all great wide receivers, but if the injury bug strikes, having only five receivers may prove problematic.
The streak of undrafted rookies making the roster in Baltimore continued as defensive lineman Michael Pierce made the roster. Pierce impressed on Thursday, with a strip sack of Luke McCown. Pierce recovered his own forced fumble for a touchdown. Pierce will obviously sit behind Brandon Williams, but he is definitely competing with Willie Henry for snaps.
Outside linebacker Chris Carter also made the roster, largely fueled by an impressive showing against the Panthers in the first game of the preseason. Hyped undrafted outside linebacker Victor Ochi did not make the roster despite two sacks in the final two games of the preseason.
This day truly was crazy. Each cut that has been announced has been more surprising than the last. Everything that we thought we knew about the Ravens roster was wrong, very wrong. To whomever wins the “You Pick to the Team” contest, I really would like to know what you knew that we missed.