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Takeaways from the Ravens’ first official 2023 depth chart

Top takeaways from the team’s official depth chart to start the year.

NFL: Preseason-Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens released their first official depth chart for the 2023 season on Tuesday, ahead of their Week 1 home opener against the Houston Texans.

While there weren’t any big surprises, there are still some interesting takeaways to break down on both sides of the ball.

Here a some of the most notable:

No. 2 QB not declared

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

There was never any doubt about who the Ravens starting signal caller would be in 2023 and beyond after Lamar Jackson inked a then-record-breaking deal in late April. However, the topic of who his primary backup will be this year is apparently still a mystery. The first official depth chart has both fourth-year pro Tyler Huntley and 16th-year veteran Josh Johnson listed in the No. 2 spot behind the former unanimous league MVP.

Huntley appeared to have the spot locked up with a strong camp and preseason Week 1 performance before suffering a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the next few weeks. During his absence, Johnson stepped his game up several notches. He made it an open competition again, to the point where the Ravens are now carrying three quarterbacks for the first time since 2020.

J.K. Dobbins back on top

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After being listed behind sixth-year veteran Gus Edwards on the unofficial depth chart during training camp, Dobbins resumed his spot as the Ravens’ starting running back. At the time the initial listing was released, Dobbins was still on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Since been activated, he’s returned to practice and appears poised to play a more featured role heading into the final year of his rookie deal.

Zay Flowers still behind Rashod Bateman

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There was little doubt that the Ravens’ top four spots on the depth chart would belong to the quartet of first-rounders on the active roster. What wasn’t clear, however, was if Flowers would be penciled in ahead of the team’s top pick from the 2021 NFL Draft. After all, Flowers had an outstanding training camp and preseason. Bateman began camp on the PUP list and is still being ramped up since being activated.

It just goes to show the faith in the building for Bateman to emerge if he stays healthy is still high. The Ravens also rarely have rookies ahead of established players unless they were declared Day 1 starters, like former first-rounders Patrick Queen and Tyler Linderbaum were.

Patrick Mekari listed as primary backup at two spots

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The Ravens are very fortunate that they have the veteran do-it-all, who has starting experience at every position on the offensive line. Mekari is listed as second string option at left tackle behind former First-Team All-Pro Ronnie Stanley and at center behind Linderbaum, who is coming off a strong rookie season.

Mekari is not listed as a primary backup at left guard. Some speculated he would be after a rough preseason for sixth-round rookie Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu who lost the battle for the starting spot to fourth-year pro John Simpson. It appears that won’t be the case, as the former University of Oregon standout is first in line to fill in at the spot in the event of injury or poor performance.

No. 2 CB not declared

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The starting spot opposite of three-time Pro Bowler Marlon Humphrey has been up for grabs even before the door officially closed on a potential return for Marcus Peters. Yet, no one has been able to outright seize the role because they’ve either been injured or available but inconsistent in their play during training camp and the preseason.

The Ravens currently have both Rock Ya-Sin, who was their first post-draft acquisition, and Ronald Darby listed as co-starters in the spot across from Humphrey. Humphrey could miss the first game or two as he recovers from foot surgery.

Third-year pro Brandon Stephens, who started two games in place of Peters at corner down the stretch last season, is listed as Humphrey’s primary backup. That could very well mean that he’d be the first man up in his absence. The two veterans may then rotate or be a game-time decision when it comes to who gets the start on a given week.

David Ojabo starting over Jadeveon Clowney at SAM

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Seventh-year veteran Tyus Bowser is out for at least the first four games of the season on the Non-Football Injury list. It looks like Ojabo will be the next man up at the starting spot opposite Odafe Oweh, over three-time Pro Bowler and former No. 1 overall pick Clowney.

Neither player is ideally suited to play the SAM role, which regularly requires the player to drop into zone or man coverage. Since Clowney is the better run defender of the two, even if he doesn’t start, he still might see the field more on early downs and have Ojabo check in on obvious passing situations.

Many fans were pushing the panic button on last year’s second-round pick when he followed up a standout offseason with a relatively quiet preseason. However, the presence of the established veteran and the imparted knowledge from the new Outside Linebackers Coach will help him reach his potential.

Trenton Simpson at the bottom of ILB depth chart

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After Malik Harrison and Del’Shawn Phillips had strong training camps and preseason performances, respectively, the third-round rookie finds himself looking up to them both on the depth chart. Simpson is listed as the third-string WILL/Weakside, which is where he might very well be starting next year if Patrick Queen departs in free agency. For the time being, he’ll likely be relegated to primarily special teams duties, according to this projected pecking order barring injury.