Over the next several months, leading up to the start of the NFL regular season, players will fight it out to make the Ravens’ roster. Which position will be the most interesting to watch unfold?
Just a year ago, fans were wondering who would be Baltimore’s starting center in 2017. Ryan Jensen stepped up and really helped solidify the Ravens’ patchwork offensive line. Unfortunately for Baltimore, this pushed Jensen out of the Ravens’ price range in free agency, and he signed with the Buccaneers. Now, Baltimore is facing the same dilemma. Who will emerge as the starting center for the 2018 season?
The potential candidates: Matt Skura, Alex Lewis, Nico Siragusa, and Bradley Bozeman.
Skura replaced the injured Marshal Yanda at right guard last season. While nothing special, Skura performed admirably for a first-time starter. Skura’s natural position is center.
Lewis is another name that has been thrown around for the open spot. Lewis played left guard primarily in his rookie season in 2016, but has struggled to stay healthy, missing several games in 2016 and the entire 2017 season. Lewis is taller than you would normally want a center to be, but he played well at guard when healthy in 2016, and has some previous experience at the center position.
Siragusa is going into his second year, and has yet to play a snap in the NFL after he missed all of last season with a severe knee injury, in which he tore his ACL, PCL, and MCL. Siragusa, if healthy, could emerge as a serious contender for the center job. An injury like that can linger, however, and some even wondered if Siragusa would ever play football again after it initially happened.
Bozeman is the newest member to this list. Bozeman was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Ravens. Bozeman played college football at Alabama, where, despite his lack of athleticism, he was a solid starting center for the Crimson Tide. Bozeman is massive, and has much to improve on, but he has almost as good of a chance as any to win the position. This may be the most wide-open position on the roster.
Potential candidates: Patrick Onwuasor, Kamalei Correa, Bam Bradley, and Kenny Young.
C.J. Mosley is of course the starting middle linebacker for Baltimore, but who will line up next to him in 2018? Onwuasor played weakside linebacker in 2017, and while flashing in moments, left much to be desired. Onwuasor, previously undrafted, was starting for the first time in his career, however, so there is definitely room for him to improve drastically.
Correa, a former second-round pick, will once again try to find his way as a starter, after playing mostly special teams for his first two years. Onwuasor beat Correa for the starting job last season, but playing inside linebacker was new to Correa, who was a defensive end in college. This will be his third year playing his new position.
Bradley, an undrafted rookie from 2017, made several plays during the preseason last year, but unfortunately missed the regular season due to injury. Bradley showed his hard-hitting ability in the preseason, which goes all too well with the name “Bam.”
The Ravens biggest weakness on defense in 2017 was the inability to effectively cover tight ends in the passing game. In the draft, Baltimore seemingly addressed this need by selecting linebacker Kenny Young out of UCLA in the fourth round. Young has the speed and athleticism to cover tight ends and running backs, but must work on his run defense.
We could see a rotation of linebackers at the position in 2018, including mixing in the dime defense on passing downs. The Ravens have an impressive track record of unearthing hidden gems at the linebacker position though, so it’s possible that one of the aforementioned players could shock everybody this year.
Baltimore truly revamped their receiving corps this offseason with the signings of Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead, plus drafting Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley. This leaves Breshad Perriman, Chris Moore, Tim White, Quincy Adeboyejo, and Devier Posey fighting for a roster spot. Crabtree, Brown, and Snead are locks, barring anything unexpected, to make the team. Who will fill the remaining spots behind them?
It’s safe to assume that either Scott or Lasley will make the roster, if not both. Scott, at six-foot-five, has perfect intangibles for a red-zone target. Lasley is a smooth route runner, but had issues with drops in college. His upside far outweighs the drops, however, and it’s very possible that he could enter the season as the team’s fourth or fifth receiver.
Moore should be close to a lock to make the team as well, given his incredible special teams play. Moore showed growth as a wide receiver during 2018 as well, specifically towards the end of the year. Moore is a valuable player, who could stay a vital special teams player while serving as the fourth or fifth receiver on the depth chart.
Perriman, a former first-round pick, has one last shot in his fourth year to shed the bust label he has rightfully acquired. Perriman was one of the worst receivers in the league last year, plagued with constant drops and failing to get open on his routes. Perriman, for the first time, will have to fight just to make the roster, and given his lack of contributions on special teams, it is looking more and more unlikely for the 2015 first-round pick.
White and Adeboyejo will have to make their mark on special teams to make the roster, or they could end up spending the year on the practice squad. White is a potential candidate for kick/punt returner, so he has the edge over Adeboyejo there. Aside from flashing in training camp and the preseason, neither White or Adeboyejo has proven anything as a wide receiver in the NFL.
It will be an interesting offseason for Ravens’ fans to watch, with several positions open to competition, as well as a new, exciting, young quarterback in Lamar Jackson.