Teams across the league will be reporting for training camp very soon and the Baltimore Ravens have a handful of position groups that will feature tight contested battles for snaps and a spot on the final roster.
Interior Defensive Line
The Ravens currently have nine interior defensive linemen on their roster and nearly half of them are locks to be on the team in 2022. The cemented quartet consists of veterans Calais Campbell and Michael Pierce, third-year pro Justin Madubuike and rookie Travis Jones. That leaves the likes of Broderick Washington, Brent Urban, Aaron Crawford, Isaiah Mack, and Rayshad Nichols to battle for the last spot or two on the depth chart.
Washington is one of a handful of third-year pros on the team heading into a pivotal training camp. The 2020 fifth-round pick showed a lot more promising flashes in year two than he did as a rookie and he’ll need to show even more over the next month to both make the cut and carve out a regular role in the defensive line rotation. In 2021, Washington appeared in 14 games and made two starts, and recorded 16 total tackles including a pair for a loss, three quarterback hits, and his first career sack.
Urban is an eight-year veteran who is returning for his second stint with the team after spending the last three years as a solid journeyman contributor with three different teams. He was originally drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Virginia and after missing his entire rookie season with an injury, he played four years in Baltimore from 2015-2018.
The 31-year-old is an ideal backup for Campbell at defensive end/five-technique. He could take some of the load on early downs for the six-time Pro Bowler so that he can have fresher legs when rushing the passer on third down and in obvious passing situations.
Mack has shown the most promise of the longshots in limited opportunities at the NFL level with 2.5 career sacks in three seasons including one with the Ravens last year, after being signed to the practice squad during the season.
Crawford has only appeared in one regular season game in his first two years in the league since signing with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2019 out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Nichols signed with the team as an undrafted free agent this year out of Stephen F. Austin State University where he recorded 10 sacks as a senior in 2021.
The Ravens may end up only carrying five defensive linemen after final cuts but could very well start the season with six. They could opt to cut Urban and re-sign him after placing a rehabbing player returning from injury on short-term injured reserve or hold on to six down lineman until a player that starts the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list is ready to play.
All three of the longshots will likely be prime practice squad candidates as long as they stay healthy but could emerge as a dark horse to contend for a final roster spot with a strong training camp and preseason.