QB: Joe Flacco
Do I need to explain?
RB: Ray Rice
This is becoming less popular, but Rice has lost weight and apparently looks like a new person, much like Suggs was at the beginning of last season. This looks like it will be an amazing season for Rice.
FB: Kyle J
Not going to attempt to spell that name, but I don't think he'll be too much of a "fullback", so much as he will be used as an additional pass catcher out of the backfield and someone who could potentially carry the football at times. Just a versatile player to create more confusion.
LT: Eugene Monroe
Much like Flacco, do I have to explain?
LG: David Yankey
I went back and forth quite a bit on who to place here, but I ultimately settled on Yankey. He's fallen out of the first round in most mock drafts recently and I've read that he needs to improve his tenacity and nastiness in run blocking, which probably hurt him. Otherwise, he's a stellar player with great mobility, quickness, and footwork. He'd be an awesome addition to the ZBS and with the 8-8 teams switching their draft order every round, there's a chance the Ravens can snag Yankey before a team like the Giants or Steelers. Also, given how the Ravens are looking at 11 picks in 2015, including comp picks, the Ravens could operate a trade if needed.
C: Gino Gradkowski
Unless Alex Mack becomes available by the Browns rescinding the transition tag, don't count on the Ravens having a new face at center. They just weren't aggressive at all in "getting bigger in the interior", which disappoints me. For how cheap EDS was and how cheap BDLP would likely be, it's a head scratcher that the Ravens haven't brought a veteran in. Hell, even Will Montgomery is an upgrade who is only one season removed (2012) from a pretty great season. It's still possible that the Ravens bring in a new face, and hopefully so, but it doesn't appear that way now. Jonathan Goodwin is becoming an increasingly nice option to at least compete and push Gino.
RG: Marshal Yanda
RT: Kelechi Osemele
Kelechi has said he prefers to play at left guard, but given his back issues, he should not be there. He's just too tall and bending like that could cause longterm problems. Now, Osemele needs to work on his quickness around the edge to get better at beating speed rushes, but he's a fairly good tackle with some solid upside. We could also be talking about Yankey playing out here, given his experience at tackle, but Kelechi has already proven he can play outside, so he seems like the logical choice.
WR: Torrey Smith, Steve Smith
Torrey Smith should be quite happy to have Steve Smith on the team. Torrey will benefit greatly from Steve's route running skills, helping to improve Torrey's, and helping to take attention away from Torrey. When the Ravens go three wide, Steve will be best in the slot, but in two wide receiver sets, Steve still has decent enough speed and tenacity to play outside.
TE: Dennis Pitta, Eric Ebron
Dennis Pitta is a lock to start, but the number two tight end position (something Kubiak values quite a bit) is far from that. Depending on what the Ravens do in the first round, ASJ could very well be the starting tight end next to Pitta. But, in this scenario, it's Ebron. Ebron may not be the best blocker and gets pushed around a fair amount, but that's something he can improve on and likely will, given how much he worked his butt of this season to improve as a blocker. As a receiver, he brings a great skill set to compliment Pitta. While Pitta works the middle, Ebron is great at carrying the seam and working the deep routes. There's probably no better prospect-quarterback fit than Ebron to Joe.
DE: Chris Canty, DeAngelo Tyson
Chris Canty will be the incumbent starter and it doesn't appear anyone will likely steal the job away. With one season in the 3-4 under his belt, I'd expect more production and better play in the pass rushing department this year. The unknown will be the other defensive end spot. As of now, it appears it will be DeAngelo Tyson, a player the Ravens weren't exactly thrilled with at the time that they drafted him. Now, it appears he could be like Art Jones and be a late pick that shines. In limited snaps, he showed pretty solid athleticism and the ability to rush the passer. He also wasn't too shabby with his run defense. Now, he won't make people forget about Art Jones right away, but the drop off shouldn't be as sharp as most assume. It will most likely feature a rotation with Kapron Lewis-Moore, but Tyson will receive most of the snaps.
NT: Haloti Ngata
The Ravens hands are kinda forced on this one due to Ngata's massive cap hit. His dedication to the game seems to be wavering and injuries have really hampered him lately. When healthy, though, few are better. Ngata is a tremendous run stuffer, no pun intended, and is very unheralded for his ability to absorb blocks. He hasn't been the same as a pass rusher recently, but you'd know if you were missing him. It's very likely that the Ravens rotate in Brandon Williams in heavily for Ngata to keep him healthy, but Ngata will be the "starter".
OLB: Terrell Suggs, Courtney Upshaw
Terrell Suggs wasn't extended to sit on the bench. A very underrated edge-setter due to his reputation as a pass rusher, Suggs will once again man the "RUSH" outside linebacker spot. Given his extension and a full offseason to recover, the Ravens can only hope that he is as motivated as he was last season. At the "SAM", most would expect to see Elvis Dumervil, but that's a bad assumption. Dumervil is one of the worst run defending outside linebackers in the league, not showing the ability to consistently set the edge. Upshaw, on the other hand, is highly unheralded, much like Ngata, because his work isn't flashy. Upshaw sets the edge, stuffs the run, and provides an extremely physical presence in pass coverage, often beating up tight ends. He may not be a flashy pass rusher, although he is improving, but he does his job well. Who starts between Doom and Upshaw will depend on the look of the offense, but let's assume it's a standard run formation.
ILB: Daryl Smith, Arthur Brown
Many people worry about this linebacker look because most just assume that both Brown and Smith are just pass coverage linebackers. That's false. Brown was actually a great linebacker against the run in college, showing an ability to stack and shed well, and with a full offseason in the weight room and no injuries, he should be in a position to resume that in the NFL. He also shows great read and react skills and an ability to rush the passer. He will man the "WILL" linebacker spot. At the "MIKE", we have Daryl Smith. Smith wasn't terribly great against the run in 2013, but some of that honestly could be contributed to unfamiliarity with the position. In Jacksonville, Smith played OLB and was a beast. One can hope that a full season at inside linebacker has increased his comfort and made him a better defender against the run. If not, at least the Ravens have a linebacker who can cover really well and rush the passer well. It's not all bad to have two pass defending linebackers in the NFL today when you consider how big of weapons tight ends have become.
CB: Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb
There really isn't too much to say here.
S: Matt Elam, Chris Clemons
Maybe I'm just being optimistic here, but Chris Clemons has sat on the market for quite some time, even being allowed to walk out of Detroit (think about how bad their safeties are) without a deal. Maybe that has to do with his present asking price. Hopefully he continues to sit on the market because Ozzie would sure hate to lose out on a comp pick. Bringing in Clemons, who excels in deep coverage with his speed and quickness, would allow Matt Elam to slide back into the strong safety role and play closer to the line of scrimmage. A very underrated thing about this signing, though, is that the Ravens would have two hybrid safeties capable of playing both safety spots, making for some very interesting looks and coverage possibilities. If the Ravens are unable to rope in Clemons, Darian Stewart isn't a bad free safety option, he's just not going to provide much in terms of run support or coverage underneath.
Let me know who you think will be starting next season.
Edited by BmoreBird22, 22 March 2014 - 09:40 PM.