An early look at the Ravens’ projected starting lineup

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens still have holes to fill but many of the players on their roster will play substantial roles next season.

Here’s a look at what the starting lineup could look like with the players now available:


Quarterback: Lamar Jackson

Analysis: The Ravens will be playoff contenders as long as Jackson is in the lineup. Last season, Jackson won his second NFL MVP after throwing for 3,678 yards and 24 touchdowns with career highs in completion percentage (67.2) and yards per completion (8) over 16 regular season games. He also led the Ravens with 821 yards rushing, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, with five scores. The biggest question is who will be Jackson’s main backup. The Ravens have Josh Johnson and Malik Cunningham on the roster, but there might be somebody else by September.

Offensive line: Left guard: Patrick Mekari; left tackle: Ronnie Stanley; center: Tyler Linderbaum; right guard: Ben Cleveland; right tackle: Daniel Faalele

Analysis: Mekari and Cleveland move into the starting lineup with the loss of John Simpson (Jets) and Kevin Zeitler (Lions) to free agency. The Ravens recently signed Josh Jones, who can play tackle and guard, which makes him capable of competing for a starting job. The Ravens also will select a tackle in this year’s draft and that player will have an opportunity to earn playing time or even start because of the lack of depth at that position.

Running back: Derrick Henry

Analysis: The Ravens made a huge splash in NFL free agency by agreeing to terms with Henry, a four-time Pro Bowl running back. Henry turned 30 on January 4th, but he is still a dominant player. Henry has run for at least 1,00 yards and 12 touchdowns in five of the last six seasons. Justice Hill will be the main backup until Keaton Mitchell fully recovers from a knee injury. The Ravens also will bring in a veteran running back for training camp.

Wide receivers: Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman, and Nelson Agholor

Analysis: Flowers emerged as one of the team’s top playmakers with a stellar rookie season. He led the wide receivers in receptions (77) yards (858) and touchdowns (5).  The Ravens have high expectations for Bateman, who appeared in 16 regular-season games and finished fifth on the team with 32 receptions for 367 yards and a touchdown. Agholor, 30, was re-signed to a one-year deal after catching 35 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns. The Ravens will add a veteran or two before training camp and they could also draft a wideout.

Tight end: Mark Andrews

Analysis: Andrews missed seven regular-season games but still caught a team-high six touchdowns. He also had 45 receptions for 455 yards and is Jackson’s main target. The Ravens also have Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar as capable backups. The Ravens like their depth at tight end and it’s one of their least areas of concern.


Defensive line: Defensive tackles Justin Madubuike and Michael Pierce; nose tackle Travis Jones

Analysis: The Ravens re-signed Madubuike before free agency after he had a breakout season. Madubuike, 26, started all 17 games, producing career highs in tackles (56), sacks (13), tackles for loss (12), quarterback hits (33), and forced fumbles (2), en route to earning his first Pro Bowl honors and second-team All-Pro honors. Pierce and Jones were solid as run-stoppers, and the Ravens have depth with Brent Urban and Broderick Washington Jr.

Outside linebackers: Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo.

Analysis: Oweh hasn’t had outstanding stats since the Ravens selected him in the first round of the 2021 draft, but he has received praise for his work ethic. This past season, Oweh appeared in 13 games after dealing with an ankle injury in Week 2 and finished with 23 tackles, 12 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles, and tied a career-high with five sacks. Oweh’s future in Baltimore could depend on this season. Ojabo has dealt with injuries over his first two seasons, but he has a big upside. The Ravens need to replace outside linebackers Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy, who combined for 18 sacks last year, but the team could consider bringing those players back.

Inside linebackers: Roquan Smith and Trenton Simpson

Analysis: Smith is the heart of the defense and was named an All-Pro this past season. He led the team with 158 tackles. His 39 consecutive games with at least five tackles marks the NFL’s longest active streak. Smith also had five tackles for loss, 1 1/2 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, and a career-high eight passes defensed. Second-year player Trenton Simpson moves into the starting role for Patrick Queen, who signed with the Steelers as a free agent. While Simspon had a limited role as a rookie, he showed the potential of his play-making ability.

Secondary: Cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens; Safeties Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams

Analysis: The Ravens have one of the best-starting secondaries in the NFL, but they lack depth behind those players. Hamilton made the Pro Bowl in just his second year and is becoming one of the league’s top playmakers. Humphrey plays at a Pro Bowl level when healthy, and Stephens showed he can be a lockdown quarterback. Williams has also battled injuries, so the Ravens need to make sure they have players available behind him. The team did re-sign safety Ar’Darius Washington, who has played well when he is healthy, and cornerback Arthur Maulet, who provides a solid veteran presence. Look for general manager Eric DeCosta to add more players in the draft or free agency.

Special teams: Kicker Justin Tucker; punter/holder Jordan Stout; long snapper Nick Moore; and, returner Tylan Wallace.

Analysis: The Ravens have one of the best special teams units in the league and will keep that continuity with Tucker, Stout, and Moore. Wallace takes over the starting job for Devin Duvernay, who signed with the Jaguars this offseason. Wallace returned a punt for a game-winning 76-yard touchdown against the Rams last season and the Ravens like his potential.

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