How Ravens' depth chart is shaping up after free-agent WR makeover

How Ravens’ depth chart is shaping up after free-agent WR makeover

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Even though free agency just began, the Baltimore Ravens have a different look than the team that got booted out of the playoff hunt on a last-minute touchdown in January.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, defensive back Lardarius Webb, running back Danny Woodhead and offensive tackle Austin Howard are gone. Wide receivers Ryan Grant and John Brown are now in. And offensive lineman James Hurst and defensive end Brent Urban have returned.

Let’s take at a way-too-soon projection of Baltimore’s depth chart:

OFFENSE

Quarterback: Joe Flacco. He returns for his 11th straight season as the Ravens’ starting quarterback. Flacco has to get his game back on track or this could be his final season in Baltimore.

Running back: Alex Collins. He was the Ravens’ biggest surprise last season, going from the practice squad to the NFL’s 11th-leading rusher. If Baltimore drafts a running back early, Collins might have to share the featured role or become a change-of-pace back.

Wide receiver: Grant. He’s the No. 1 receiver by default. This could change if the Ravens can add another receiver like Jordy Nelson. But right now, the ex-Redskins wideout had 45 catches last season, which is the most among any current Baltimore receiver.

Wide receiver: Brown. The Ravens are banking on Brown to be the deep threat for the under-appreciated Mike Wallace. The big question is whether can stay healthy after missing a career-worst six games last season due to quadriceps, back and toe injuries.

Wide receiver: Chris Moore or Breshad Perriman. It would be a surprise if Baltimore didn’t draft a wide receiver in the first two rounds. So, Moore and Perriman are essentially place-holders. Perriman, a former first-round pick, isn’t guaranteed to make the team after three underwhelming and injury-filled years.

Tight end: Nick Boyle. This is a spot where the starter likely isn’t on the team right now. Benjamin Watson is a free agent after leading Baltimore in catches, so finding a pass-catching tight end is a priority. Eric Ebron?

Left tackle: Ronnie Stanley. The Ravens are hopping Stanley takes a big step forward after not making the anticipated improvement last season.

Left guard: Hurst. He was so solid at this position that it earned him $8 million guaranteed on a new deal. It would be a risk to put him back at right tackle.

Center: Matt Skura. This spot can be labeled "too be determined." It’s expected that Ryan Jensen, last year’s starting center, will get a big payday elsewhere (he’s visiting Tampa Bay and then Indianapolis). Skura is a natural center who more than held his own filling in for Marshal Yanda at right guard.

Right guard: Yanda. The six-time Pro Bowl blocker should be ready by training camp at the latest after missing the last 14 games with a broken ankle.

Right tackle: Alex Lewis. This is a projection to replace Howard, whose option wasn’t picked up. The Ravens believe Lewis has Pro Bowl potential as a guard. But, if Baltimore drafts a right tackle, Lewis could go back to left guard or maybe even see how he fares at center.

DEFENSE

Defensive tackle: Brandon Williams. The Ravens allowed a league-worst 169.5 yards rushing on average when Williams was sidelined four games with a foot injury.

Defensive end: Urban. He’s an impact player if he can stay healthy — which is big "if" based on history in college and the NFL. The Ravens wanted to see if he could put a full season together like 2016, which is why they brought him back.

Nose tackle: Michael Pierce. He wasn’t as dominant as his rookie season last year, which could give more playing time to the much-improved Willie Henry.

Strong-side linebacker: Matthew Judon. He enjoyed a breakthrough season last year, ranking fourth in the NFL with 17 tackles for loss. Judon is the heir apparent to Terrell Suggs.

Middle linebacker: C.J. Mosley. He’s in line for a big-money extension after making the Pro Bowl three times in his first four seasons.

Weak-side linebacker: Patrick Onwuasor. He’s a high-effort player, but Baltimore will be looking to upgrade at this position this offseason.

Rush linebacker: Suggs. It’s starting to look like a Hall of Fame career for Suggs after an 11-sack season last year.

Right cornerback: Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens are unsure whether Jimmy Smith will be ready for the start of the season after tearing his Achilles last December. That means Humphrey should get a chance to build off an impressive rookie campaign.

Left cornerback: Brandon Carr. The Ravens need the NFL’s most durable defensive back after a season in which every other corner on the team missed time in the preseason or regular season.

Strong safety: Tony Jefferson. Baltimore will look for more game-changing plays from Jefferson, last year’s high-priced free agent who recorded one interception and one forced fumble in 2017.

Free safety: Eric Weddle. He’s the only active safety with at least 900 tackles, 25 interceptions and five sacks.

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