Ravens' 53-man roster projection includes dozen defensive backs

The Baltimore Ravens open training camp July 25 at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Maryland. Here's a 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACK (2): Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III.

For now, let's say the Ravens carry two quarterbacks, which is what they've done for seven of the past eight seasons. This is a different situation because rookie sixth-round pick Trace McSorley is being groomed in the mold of Taysom Hill, the New Orleans Saints quarterback who contributes on special teams. McSorley improved throughout the offseason, and his versatility puts him on the bubble. Injuries that occur elsewhere on the roster could eventually create a spot for him on the 53-man roster.

RUNNING BACK (3): Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill.

Ingram and Edwards are the workhorses for Baltimore's run-heavy offense, and Hill offers explosiveness as a third-down back and a potential returner. A strong preseason by Kenneth Dixon, who averaged 5.6 yards per carry last season, would increase his trade value. Keep an eye on De'Lance Turner, who can steal a spot, and Tyler Ervin, who has experience as a returner.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Willie Snead, Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Chris Moore, Seth Roberts, Jaleel Scott.

It's wide open after the four locks at this position (Snead, Brown, Boykin and Moore). Baltimore might decide to just keep five receivers considering the strength of the offense is running the ball. If the Ravens go with six (meaning an additional veteran and a developmental receiver), Roberts and Scott have the edge over Michael Floyd and Jordan Lasley following spring workouts.

TIGHT END (3): Nick Boyle, Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst

This is arguably the best group of young tight ends in the league. There's really no need to carry four because defensive tackle-fullback Patrick Ricard can help as a blocking tight end.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Orlando Brown Jr., Matt Skura, Ben Powers, James Hurst, Bradley Bozeman, Alex Lewis

Three starters (Yanda, Stanley and Brown) are set, and Skura is the incumbent at center (although Bozeman will compete for that job). The big question mark is left guard. Lewis didn't help his case by rehabbing his shoulder injury on his own (which coach John Harbaugh publicly noted), but his experience (18 starts) gives him the nod over Jermaine Eluemunor. Powers, a rookie fourth-round pick, is the sleeper pick to earn the job.

DEFENSIVE LINE (7): Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Willie Henry, Chris Wormley, Daylon Mack, Zach Sieler, Patrick Ricard.

Williams is the only one guaranteed to start. Pierce's poor conditioning this offseason gave an opening for Henry, and Sieler and Wormley are competing for the defensive end spot left by Brent Urban, who signed with the Tennessee Titans in free agency. Undrafted rookie Gerald Willis is on the bubble.

LINEBACKER (9): Patrick Onwuasor, Chris Board, Kenny Young, Matthew Judon, Jaylon Ferguson, Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee, Shane Ray, Tim Williams

Onwuasor is taking over for C.J. Mosley, and Board is the favorite over Young for the other inside linebacker job. At outside linebacker, Bowser is expected to start opposite Judon. The decision here is how many pass-rushers will make the cut. McPhee is versatile enough to move to the interior to provide pressure, and Ray flashed at offseason workouts. The Ravens might not be ready to part ways with Williams just two years after investing a third-round pick in him.

SECONDARY (12): Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, Justin Bethel, Anthony Averett, Iman Marshall, Earl Thomas, Tony Jefferson, DeShon Elliott, Anthony Levine, Chuck Clark.

On the surface, it's crazy to think the Ravens would devote nearly a quarter of the roster to the defensive backfield. But, who would you cut? The Ravens are spending $56.5 million on five defensive backs (Thomas, Jefferson, Smith, Carr and Young) this year. Baltimore used five draft picks on the secondary over the past three seasons (Humphrey, Clark, Averett, Elliott and Marshall). And two of the Ravens' core special-teams players (Levine and Bethel) are defensive backs. This doesn't even include Cyrus Jones, last year's returner who missed the offseason because of a non-football illness. Of course, injuries could trim this number by the start of the regular season.

SPECIALIST (3): Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox

The self-proclaimed "Wolfpack" is entering their eighth season together, and each one is among the best at what they do.