General Manager Eric DeCosta worked diligently to bolster the depth chart this offseason. He succeeded in adding talent to previously lacking positions, specifically at outside linebacker and safety. The decision to carry just five defensive lineman in exchange for an extra defensive back is sound considering Coordinator Don Martindale’s traditional usage frequency of nickel and dime personnel in comparison to base defense.
A rash of injuries have hampered the wide receiver group, so opting for a seventh member to supply in-season depth was wise. Beyond a concerning lack of proven depth at offensive tackle, the initial incarnation of the 2021 regular season roster should enable Baltimore to remain viable AFC contenders.
- Vasilis Lericos
Baltimore prioritized youth and defensive backs, retaining Chris Westry, Geno Stone and Ar’Darius Washington. With injuries to J.K. Dobbins and L.J. Fort, DeCosta will likely be scouring for running backs, linebackers, defensive lineman and a swing tackle. Pernell McPhee, Justin Ellis and Eric Tomlinson will likely be back in some capacity after players are placed on injured reserve. Trading Ben Bredeson for a draft pick swap was smart, he would’ve been buried as a fifth guard and third center in the pecking order.
Baltimore needs to add a swing offensive tackle to fill out their roster. While Ben Mason has a strong chance to return to the practice squad, it goes to show the lack of value in drafting the fullback when the front office could have added a developmental tackle such as Stone Forsythe.
- Spencer Schultz
Nothing truly surprised me about the Ravens 53-man roster decision making. I fully expect players such as McPhee, Tomlinson, Ellis and Anthony Levine Sr. to re-sign with Baltimore after several players are placed on injured reserve. Candidates to land on injured reserve, with the ability to return after three weeks, include Rashod Bateman, Nick Boyle, Jimmy Smith and Myles Boykin.
Parting ways with two rookie fifth-round picks in Shaun Wade and Mason is a bit of a disappointment, but I expect Mason to clear waivers and sign to the practice squad. I am pleased that Eric DeCosta was able to recoup some value for Bredeson as well. This is a strong roster overall and I expect DeCosta will make a move for a backup offensive tackle before the start of the season.
- Dustin Cox
The Ravens opted to go with Justice Hill, Ty’son Williams, and Gus Edwards at running back, which is solid. It’s tough to lose Dobbins, but I support DeCosta’s approach of not investing too much into the position group before the season starts. There are plenty of free agents the team can pick up if they are needed.
Retaining bubble players, including Washington and Westry, shows how important defensive backs are to Martindale’s defense. I’m especially excited about Washington, he is young, explosive and has the potential to do great things for this secondary.
The only real surprise to me is that Jaylon Ferguson made the final roster. I didn’t see very much improvement from him this offseason. He’s been given another year to prove himself, 2021 will be crucial for the young edge defender.
Overall, the roster appears playoff bound. Hopefully DeCosta will addresses weaknesses at linebacker and offensive line before the season ends.
- Jonas Evans
There weren’t any major shockers this time around. I fully expect veterans Levine, McPhee and Tomlinson to be back the roster in time for the season opener after several injured players are placed on short-term injured reserve. I was a little surprised that Westry made the cut over Nigel Warrior given the fact that Warrior performed better overall in the preseason and can play safety in addition to corner, but defensive backs with Westry’s rare physical gifts are unlikely to clear waivers.
I loved the way that the Ravens turned their surplus of interior offensive linemen, particularly at guard, into more draft picks. Neither Bredeson nor Greg Mancz were likely to make the final cut. Hopefully their plan to keep Adrian Ealy under the radar during the preseason pays off, and he is retained on the practice squad. Otherwise, with Michael Schofield gone, procuring more depth at offensive tackle should be a priority.
Justice Hill earning a spot over Nate McCrary probably had more to do with his strong presence on special teams than faith that he was the better fit as a running back. The draft selection of Ben Mason looks even more questionable now considering he was a long shot to make the team from the jump and they could’ve used that pick up add depth on their defensive or offensive line. The biggest disappointment in my view was that DeCosta was unable to trade undrafted rookie kicker Jake Verity for a conditional late round draft pick.
- Joshua Reed