Training camp is a unique time of year. The duality of joining together and pushing one another to become the greatest team in the NFL while simultaneously doing everything to bury the player next to you for a job is peculiar. It is your team vs. 31 other franchises, but it is also you vs. every other person sporting your teams’ logo. In the end, only 53 men make the final cut.
While the pads—or even shorts—aren’t on yet, it’s time for a basic assessment of the players on the roster and assume who is locked-in, expected to make it, on the fringe or a long-shot for the final 53.
Not expected: 25%
Joe Flacco (lock): Don’t even take the contract into account, because he’s the starting quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens and reportedly the best quarterback on the field. Unless both Robert Griffin III and Lamar Jackson throw a touchdown on every single pass in camp while Joe Flacco purposefully targets Eric Weddle on every play, he is making the roster.
Lamar Jackson (lock): The rookie quarterback wasn’t picked to be a cut. No chance he isn’t making the roster.
Robert Griffin III (fringe): Some expect him to make it, while others understand a third quarterback means one less defensive back, defensive lineman or depth player at a position of value. I think he has a chance to make the roster, but he needs to prove his value as a player on the team.
Josh Woodrum (long-shot): Ravens fans are intrigued by Woodrum’s abilities. Last year, he created competition with Ryan Mallett but ultimately landed on the teams’ practice squad. I believe he will once again land on the Ravens’ practice squad, but not on the final 53.
Alex Collins (lock): The starter of 2017 returns for a year of proving he wasn’t a ‘one-year wonder.’ After posting 966 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games, Collins will be given starting reps until somebody can steal them away.
Javorius Allen (expected): Buck is a perfect spell-back in the Ravens’ system. In the two years he’s been healthy, Allen’s consistently moved the chains on the ground and through the air. I like Buck’s play style and his jack-of-all-trades play-making. The big back for short-yardage situations isn’t necessary as Buck can lower the shoulder or catch a pass and create a first down. I believe Buck makes the roster, but once camp arrives, it could change.
Kenneth Dixon (expected): I don’t think Dixon misses the roster, but he must demonstrate his abilities in camp. He doesn’t have big competition, only Alex and Allen are on his level for now, but if the knee injuries decrease Kenneth’s speed and agility while another tailback emerges, Dixon could be the cut. Collins is the starter, Allen is the cheaper spell-back and Dixon’s injury history plays a factor.
Gus Edwards (not expected): If Edwards can overtake any of the players named above, he makes it, but that isn’t easy. Undrafted free agents are not given the benefit like players already on the roster. Edwards must prove he’s better than Collins, Buck or Dixon.
Another chance he can make the roster is his size out-classing everybody on the roster. Only he and Mark Thompson are above 225 lbs. for running backs on the roster. Mark is 232 pounds while Gus is 240. If the Ravens need heavyweight runners, it’s a battle between Thompson and Edwards.
De’Lance Turner (not expected): At first I had Turner as a long-shot, but the running back corps. is one of the easiest to seize a roster spot, certainly when posting 1,357 rushing yards on 7.5 yards per carry at a D-1 college. Now, add in ten touchdowns rushing and 200 yards receiving and you’re on the path to a possible player for the Ravens rushing game. If anything, Turner could fight for a special teams role and become the third or fourth running back on the roster.
Mark Thompson (not expected): Any player this big and strong has a chance for an NFL roster. His highlights demonstrate he’s fast for a bigger back. He’s capable of taking a hit and bulldozing for more yards. As I mentioned, if the Ravens want a heavier tail back, Thompson and Edwards will fight it out to the end. More importantly, protecting the quarterback is key for UDFA players. If you can pass-block/run-block, you can often find enough room on the roster.
Each player listed has a chance to make the final 53. Only RGIII and Woodrum can miss the roster for the quarterbacks, but I am under the belief of Griffin making the team while Woodrum is once again back on the practice squad. As for running backs, it’s not uncommon for the ‘dark-horse candidate’ to land on the roster. Every player has a chance here, and soon enough they’ll be working for it.