2014 Depth Chart: Baltimore Ravens
[Chart last updated: 7/2/14… see update notes from 7/2/14]
• Ray Rice’s decline from a premier player to a roster question mark has been precipitous and somewhat accentuated by our view that he was never much more than an average pure runner on his best day. That said, he was, until recently, the NFL’s best pass-catching halfback and, while his skill has waned in that area too, we decided what’s left (together with the atrocious performance of his O-line last year) should just save him from being labelled “below average”.
• As left tackles go, Eugene Monroe is a very well-rounded player. He majors in pass protection, but is no mug in the running game either and is still improving. In the end he was a hair away from a “high quality” grade but a slightly improved 2014 should see him move into that category.
• Why, when if anything he played worse than Gino Gradkowski, have we got A.Q. Shipley rated higher? Because he’s a pure center and when forced to play guard, as he was last year, he was obviously overmatched. He did well at C for Indianapolis in 2012 and should only be viewed in that capacity.
• Both Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs have shown signs of age for two seasons running now. Last year we gave Suggs a pass because of his injury and Ngata due to his playing out of favorite position (he played more 5-technique in 2012). While they are still good players, Ngata’s highlight plays have become further apart and Suggs’ Pass Rushing Productivity, although still good for such a dominant run defender, is merely average when judged independently.
1. Left Inside Linebacker
Most Ravens fans were happy when their team was able to select Arthur Brown in the second round of 2012, if not as a replacement to Ray Lewis, then more as logical progression. However, almost from his mistake in punt protection in Week 1 that allowed the Broncos to open the lead they would not relinquish, things never quite went to plan. He could never beat out (initially) Josh Bynes and then Jameel McClain, despite the latter playing very poorly. When C.J. Mosley was chosen with the 17th overall selection this year it left no one in doubt to the front office view. However, as we have just seen, not everything runs to a script so maybe Brown (and Bynes) will get another shot.
2. Free Safety
When used in the Ravens’ single-high defense, more often than not Matt Elam appeared out of place, but that’s what happens when you effectively have two strong safeties on the field together (as they did last year due to the pairing with James Ihedigbo). This year Elam will be used much closer to the line of scrimmage, where he looked far more comfortable, and Baltimore will need to find the man to play behind him. Draftee Terrence Brooks seems a logical choice, but that’s still a projection and maybe Anthony Levine or Omar Brown will state a case. Let’s just hope they don’t have to pair Elam with UFA, Darian Stewart or we may be in for a rerun of 2013.
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