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Which starting spots are up for grabs heading into training camp?

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Breaking down which players are set to compete for depth chart prominence.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After a long offseason, training camp is now just less than two weeks away. The Ravens will kick off their first of 15 total practices on July 25 and perhaps more so than years prior, the competition at various positions on both sides of the ball figures to be intense.

Between the draft and free agency, Baltimore added a bevy of names to replace departed players. The Ravens will have both young and veteran guys competing for starting spots, of which there are several up for grabs.

Here’s a breakdown of the competition for five vacant starting roles. Be sure to vote on the polls for each position below and join the conversation!


Wide receiver

Candidates: Marquise Brown, Chris Moore, Miles Boykin, Seth Roberts, TBD

Aside from returning veteran and slot man Willie Snead IV, there are more question marks than answers at the WR position for Baltimore. The Ravens starting outside receivers from last season, John Brown and Michael Crabtree, are no longer on the team, meaning there are two starting roles for the taking. The expectation is that first-round pick Marquise Brown occupies the #1 role, although he’s yet to take the field as he continues to recover from a lisfranc injury.

Seth Roberts is a decent possession receiver and rookie Miles Boykin possesses high upside, although both are longshots to earn a starting nod over Chris Moore. Entering his fourth career season, Moore has been hyped up this offseason as a potential candidate for a breakout year. Roberts needs to solidify his roster spot, too, before he can worry about challenging for consistent playing time. Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott, as well as multiple UDFA’s, are also in the mix but face steep odds to make the roster, let alone start.

Predicted Winner: Marquise Brown and Chris Moore

Poll

What will be the starting WR duo alongside Willie Snead IV?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Marquise Brown & Chris Moore
    (291 votes)
  • 26%
    Marquise Brown & Miles Boykin
    (143 votes)
  • 6%
    Chris Moore & Seth Roberts
    (38 votes)
  • 10%
    Chris Moore & Miles Boykin
    (55 votes)
  • 3%
    Other
    (21 votes)
548 votes total Vote Now

Left Guard

Candidates: Alex Lewis, Ben Powers, Bradley Bozeman, Jermaine Eluemunor, James Hurst

With five players possessing similar odds to win the starting job here, left guard is the position with the least amount of clarity on the roster. Every guy listed above is not without their flaws, but each bring different skill sets to the table. James Hurst is the most proven commodity of the group, although he struggled in a starting role last year. Alex Lewis has shown flashes of starting-caliber play over the years but has really struggled to stay healthy, most recently missing offseason workouts after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Bozeman held his own in limited action last season but as the only player of the group with natural experience at center, Baltimore may need him on-hand as Matt Skura’s backup. After being released by the Ravens and then re-signed, Jermaine Eleumunor has emerged as a legitimate darkhorse to win the job. Eleumunor received the majority of first-team reps in minicamp and appears to be in terrific shape. Fourth-round pick Ben Powers is also a sleeper but likely needs a bit more time to develop before he’s ready for serious snaps.

Prediction: Jermaine Eleumunor begins the season as the starter

Poll

Who will win the starting LG job?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    James Hurst
    (125 votes)
  • 28%
    Ben Powers
    (131 votes)
  • 17%
    Alex Lewis
    (80 votes)
  • 22%
    Jermaine Eleumunor
    (105 votes)
  • 5%
    Bradley Bozeman
    (26 votes)
467 votes total Vote Now

Middle Linebacker

Candidates: Kenny Young, Chris Board

More so than the other positions listed here, the “starting” label at middle linebacker doesn’t carry much weight. That’s because regardless of whether it’s Kenny Young or Chris Board lining up alongside Patrick Onwuasor to begin games, both players are going to see the field a lot and split snaps. Still, the Ravens will need to start one of them, and Young has to be considered the favorite.

While they’re both entering their second seasons, Young saw meaningful playing time on defense last year, whereas Board was a special teams ace. This isn’t to say Board isn’t ready for defensive snaps, however. The former UDFA has been one of the more impressive Ravens players throughout OTA’s and minicamp, but Young has more experience and raw talent. Nevertheless, it’ll be exciting to see how both Young and Board perform in larger roles and develop.

Prediction: Kenny Young is listed as the starter

Poll

Who wins the starting MLB job?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Kenny Young
    (388 votes)
  • 15%
    Chris Board
    (73 votes)
  • 2%
    Other
    (10 votes)
471 votes total Vote Now

Edge Rusher

Candidates: Tim Williams, Pernell McPhee, Jaylon Ferguson, Shane Ray, Tyus Bowser

With Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith out of the picture, there are plenty of edge-rushing snaps to go around this season. In the wake of losing their top sack suppliers from last season, the Ravens have patched together an interesting collection of names to compensate. Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser are facing perhaps their last shots to make an impact, as neither has asserted themselves through two seasons in the NFL. Williams is the more natural pass-rusher of the two but his lack of proficency against the run or in coverage makes him a hard sell as a starter. Bowser has shown flashes, too, but his inconsistencies are difficult to ignore.

That leaves rookie Jaylon Ferguson and free agent signings Pernell McPhee and Shane Ray as the most likely starting candidates. Ferguson was a dominant pass-rusher in college but will need to prove he can handle significant snaps against pro-level competition. Ray, a former first-round pick in 2015, has been hampered by wrist injuries over the past two seasons. Prior to that, however, he posted 12 total sacks in his rookie and sophomore campaigns and still possesses a talented skill set. The veteran of the bunch, Pernell McPhee, hasn’t been the same player since leaving Baltimore in 2014. Where I think he has the advantage, though, is familiarity with the system and culture. Like the departed Za’Darius Smith, McPhee can provide pass rush from the interior, too, and he’s a more proven commodity than the other candidates for the starting job.

Nevertheless, expect the majority of this group to see snaps in the rotation. They all bring different skills to the table and it’ll be interesting to see how Don Martindale divides up the playing time between the five of them.

Prediction: Pernell McPhee is listed as starter to begin the season

Poll

Who wins the starting OLB job?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Tim Williams
    (49 votes)
  • 9%
    Tyus Bowser
    (43 votes)
  • 23%
    Pernell McPhee
    (113 votes)
  • 18%
    Jaylon Ferguson
    (89 votes)
  • 37%
    Shane Ray
    (178 votes)
472 votes total Vote Now

Kick/Punt Returner

Candidates: Cyrus Jones, Tavon Young, Chris Moore, Justice Hill, Tyler Ervin, Willie Snead IV

Since the days of Jacoby Jones, it seems every year we have the same conversation regarding the returner job. Cyrus Jones performed well as the team’s primary returner last year but has yet to join the Ravens this offseason. Jones is reportedly dealing with an undisclosed medical issue and while he was one of the more effective returners in the league from Week 3 on in 2018-19, we can only operate based on what we know right now. Jones needs to return to action and prove himself as the same player we saw last year.

In his absence, the Ravens have been trying several different options to replace him. Wide receivers Chris Moore and Willie Snead IV both have experience returning punts but given their projected roles in the offense, it’s probably best to limit their injury risk as much as possible. Same goes for Tavon Young, too, especially considering his small stature. Rookie speedster Justice Hill has the speed and agility to potentially thrive at returner but has no experience doing so from college. Tyler Ervin has received a lot of returner reps this offseason but carrying five running backs on the roster simply to satisfy the need for a returner is a dicey proposition.

The best-case scenario for the Ravens is Jones returns for training camp, or at least by preseason, and solidifies the starting job. This is the scenario I envision occurring but if Jones injury holds him out longer, at least Baltimore is not without options.

Prediction: Cyrus Jones wins the returner job

Poll

Who wins the returner job?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Cyrus Jones
    (242 votes)
  • 1%
    Willie Snead IV
    (8 votes)
  • 12%
    Chris Moore
    (52 votes)
  • 5%
    Tavon Young
    (22 votes)
  • 7%
    Tyler Ervin
    (33 votes)
  • 13%
    Other
    (58 votes)
415 votes total Vote Now