Following an 11-5 record and an appearance in the Divisional Round of the 2020 NFL Playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens were surprisingly quiet in free agency. With the 2021 NFL Draft behind us, how does the Ravens’ depth chart shape up as attention turns toward the start of rookie camps and OTAs?
Baltimore Ravens Depth Chart
The Ravens added several new faces during the 2021 NFL Draft on both sides of the ball. For analysis regarding each position group on both offense and defense, scroll below the depth chart.
Quarterback: Lamar Jackson, Trace McSorley, Tyler Huntley
Running Back: J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Ty’Son Williams, Nate McCrary, Patrick Ricard, Ben Mason, Nate McCrary
Tight End: Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Josh Oliver, Eric Tomlinson, Jacob Breeland, Eli Wolf, Tony Poljan
Offensive Tackle: Ronnie Stanley, Alejandro Villanueva, Andre Smith, Tyre Phillips, Adrian Ealy, Foster Sarell
Offensive Guard: Bradley Bozeman, Kevin Zeitler, Ben Cleveland, Ben Powers, Tyre Phillips, Ben Bredeson, Sam Cooper
Center: Patrick Mekari, Trystan Colon-Castillo, Greg Mancz
Interior Defensive Line: Brandon Williams, Justin Ellis, Aaron Crawford, Xavier Kelly, Braxton Hoyett
Linebacker: Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, Pernell McPhee, L.J. Fort, Tyus Bowser, Jaylon Ferguson, Kristian Welch, Otaro Alaka, Chris Board, Barrington Wade, Blake Gallagher
Cornerback: Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, Shaun Wade, Anthony Averett, Brandon Stephens, Chris Westry, Iman Marshall, Khalil Dorsey
Safety: Chuck Clark, DeShon Elliott, Nigel Warrior, Jordan Richards, Anthony Levine, Geno Stone, Ar’Darius Washington
Kicker: Justin Tucker
Punter: Sam Koch, Johnny Townsend
Long Snapper: Nick Moore
Baltimore Ravens Depth Chart Analysis | Offense
Baltimore’s offense will enter the 2021 NFL season with a few new faces, including significant upgrades at wide receiver. Who are the new additions, and how do they fit into a unit that has attempted the most rushes over the last four years?
There is no real surprise here as Lamar Jackson sits atop the Ravens’ depth chart at the quarterback position. As expected, the 2019 NFL MVP saw a dip in production last season. It’s hard to expect someone to put up those types of numbers, but Jackson came very close.
In his third season in the NFL, Jackson completed 64.4% of his passes (242) for 2,757 yards and 26 touchdowns. Jackson showed he is still the best rushing QB in the NFL, taking off 159 times for a position-leading 1,005 yards and 7 touchdowns. The only thing limiting Lamar Jackson is the Ravens’ run-heavy offense. Baltimore attempted the fewest passes (406) last season, capping Jackson’s passing numbers.
With Robert Griffin III a free agent, we see a change in the Ravens’ depth chart from last season. Tracy McSorley now directly backs up Jackson. Entering his third season, McSorley has attempted just 10 passes, completing 3 for 90 yards and 1 touchdown.
QB3 Tyler Huntley has yet to throw a pass in the NFL, appearing in two games and rushing 10 times for 23 yards.
Baltimore’s success begins with the running back position. Since 2018, the Ravens have led the NFL in rushing attempts. Last season, they ran 555 times for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns. Between a dynamic quarterback and skilled running backs, the Ravens should dominate the run game yet again.
J.K. Dobbins eventually won over the backfield. From Week 11 on, Dobbins was virtually unstoppable. Over the final six games, Dobbins took his 77 carries for 495 yards (eighth-most) and 7 touchdowns. His 6.4 yards per carry were the most by a running back with 40 or more attempts. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Dobbins was second in the NFL with 1.67 yards over expectation per attempt. He appeared in 15 games, rushing 134 times for 805 yards and 9 touchdowns, and catching 18 of 24 targets for 120 yards. Given the Ravens’ offensive philosophy, Dobbins could end the 2021 season with the best season of all the sophomore running backs.
Behind Dobbins in the Ravens’ depth chart is Gus Edwards. Entering his fourth season, Edwards has seen over 133 carries and 700 rushing yards in all three years in Baltimore. In 2020, Edwards faced a stacked box (eight-plus defenders) the sixth-most times at 34.03%. With Mark Ingram now with the Houston Texans, Edwards is in line for an increased role next season.
Since his selection in 2019, Justice Hill has been buried on the Ravens’ depth chart. The former Oklahoma State Cowboys RB has only 70 carries for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns in his career.
Ty’Son Williams went undrafted, and the Ravens signed him to their practice squad in 2020. He played three seasons at South Carolina before transferring to BYU (played four games for BYU before tearing his ACL).
If there was an area of the Ravens’ depth chart that needed improvement, it was wide receiver. They lacked a true alpha for Jackson to target. They used the NFL Draft to address this need, including one of their first-round picks.
Marquise Brown’s season was a tale of two halves. From Week 1 to 11, Brown caught just 32 passes on 59 targets for 431 yards and 1 touchdown. Over the last six games, he gained 338 yards and 6 touchdowns on 26 of 41 receiving. While a crafty playmaker, Brown is better served as a complementary weapon to a true “X” receiver. Despite his size (5’9″, 170 pounds), Brown saw 39.3% of the Ravens’ targeted air yards, the third-highest total of any receiver in the NFL.
Arguably the most notable addition to the Ravens’ depth chart via the draft came with WR Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota. Selected with pick No. 27, Bateman instantly steps in to be the primary option on the perimeter. His elite ability to separate at the line and in his breaks should translate from Day 1. Bateman also has the straight-line speed (4.43 40-yard) and vertical (36-inch) to win on deep balls and red-zone/contested-catch situations. I would not be surprised to see Bateman be the most consistent receiver on the Ravens’ depth chart in 2021.
The second addition to the Ravens’ depth chart came in the fourth round as they selected Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace. I personally was surprised to see Wallace fall this far, but the Ravens could have gotten a steal with this pick. Wallace was a dominant receiver for the Cowboys but did have some struggles with staying healthy. All of a sudden, the Ravens have a deep wide receiver room. Wallace’s speed and advanced contested-catch skills could prompt the Ravens to have him in the starting lineup early on, if not in Week 1.
Miles Boykin has the size and speed to play outside (6’4″, 220 pounds, and a 4.42 40-yard dash) but has just 55 targets in 32 career games. On those targets, Boykin caught 32 for 464 yards (15.5 YPR) and 7 touchdowns.
Selected in the third round in 2020, Devin Duvernay caught the eye of several people in NFL circles as he outperformed the assumed WR1 for Texas in Collin Johnson. He appeared in just three games as a rookie, catching 20 of his 26 targets for 201 yards.
In the NFL, elite tight ends are a rare commodity. Luckily for the Ravens, they have one sitting atop their depth chart. Mark Andrews is by far Jackson’s favorite target. Over the last two seasons, Andrews has 122 receptions on 186 targets for 1,553 yards and 17 touchdowns. While not on the level of George Kittle or Travis Kelce, Andrews is a top-five tight end in the NFL.
Following Hayden Hurst’s trade to the Atlanta Falcons, Nick Boyle received a more prominent role in an offense that focuses on the tight end (27.8% target share). Unfortunately, Boyle’s 2020 season ended early after a gruesome knee injury in Week 10. Boyle suffered a torn PCL, MCL, meniscus, fractured tibia, and a hamstring ripped off the bone.
Even with his recovery still ongoing, the team is confident in Boyle as he would lead the Ravens’ depth chart if they fail to work out a deal with Andrews in 2021. Boyle received a two-year, $13 million contract extension on January 29, serving as their security blanket.
In the only trade the Ravens made in free agency, Baltimore sent a conditional seventh-round pick to Jacksonville for TE Josh Oliver. A former third-round pick, this is a high-upside, low-risk move by the Ravens. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Oliver can be a serious threat in Baltimore’s offense and could see a sizeable snap percentage despite his spot on the Ravens’ depth chart.
Jacob Breeland is a bit of a no-name to some fans, but if he can see the field, that could change quickly. During his senior season at Oregon, Breeland tore his ACL. Playing in six games as a senior, the 6’6″, 260-pound Breeland was Justin Herbert’s favorite target, catching 26 passes for 405 yards and 6 touchdowns. Head coach Jim Harbaugh said that Breeland will be ready for the start of camp but faces an uphill climb as he is buried on the Ravens’ depth chart.
Following a severe ankle injury that ended his 2020 season, Ronnie Stanley is expected to return to left tackle. Before last season, Baltimore gave Stanley a massive five-year, $98.75 million contract ($64 million guaranteed). Stanley has undergone two surgeries to repair his ankle but is expected to be ready for the season opener.
Just days before the NFL Draft, the Ravens completed a rather massive trade sending Orlando Brown to the Kanas City Chiefs. They had a plan all along to fill the void, and it came in the acquisition of free agent Alejandro Villanueva. The long-time Steelers tackle was allowed to walk in free agency and quickly found a new home, even though his play in 2020 left was not up to his usual standard. Villanueva will slide in at right tackle in place of Brown and face his former team at least twice a season.
The most significant free-agency shakeup on the Ravens’ offensive depth chart came at RG with Kevin Zeitler’s signing. The 31-year-old was one of the top offensive linemen on the free-agent market after the Giants cut him, having nine years of experience as an NFL starter.
He has been extremely durable, starting all 16 games last season and missing just one game over the past six years. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens signed Zeitler to a three-year, $22.5 million contract ($16 million guaranteed).
Bradley Bozeman has been a serviceable left guard and has started all 16 games in each of the last two seasons. Harbaugh has praised Bozeman for his versatility, and we could even see him transition to center. This would be a natural move as Bozeman made 31 starts at center while at Alabama.
Where Quinn Meinerz and his belly won the pre-draft process, Ben Cleveland has won the post-draft news cycle. How can you not love a man who feasted on squirrel because he was out of meat in his freezer? At 6-foot-6, 357 pounds, Cleveland is as big as the mountains John Denver sang about. As a rookie, Cleveland will compete for a significant role within the interior of Baltimore’s offensive line. Cleveland was a first-team All-SEC selection at Georgia in 2020.
A versatile offensive lineman, Patrick Mekari should retain the role he ended the 2020 season as the starting center. After Matt Skura (now a Dolphin) injured his knee, Mekari stepped up and never relinquished the role.