Ravens' 53-man projection: Little drama and lots of defensive linemen

Michael Pierce (97) is part of Baltimore's dominant inside defensive line and a part of the Ravens' deepest unit. Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens must cut their roster to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 2. Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACK (2): Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett.

For the past seven years, the Ravens have kept only two quarterbacks heading into the regular season. That streak won't end this season, even though Flacco has yet to practice because of a back injury. If Flacco would be unable to play, Baltimore would likely sign an experienced free agent than go with Josh Woodrum, who is expected to land on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACK (3): Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Buck Allen.

West and Allen have struggled in the preseason, and Woodhead has been sidelined by a hamstring injury. No one should be surprised if Baltimore adds a running back who gets cut by another team on Saturday. The Ravens will try to stash Taquan Mizzell on the practice squad. Who's the fullback? Baltimore will go with more two tight end formations this season under Greg Roman, so the Ravens will use the combination of tight end Nick Boyle and defensive lineman Patrick Ricard when they need a lead blocker.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore, Chris Matthews.

Wallace, Maclin and Perriman are the top three starters. Campanaro has won the returner job. Moore and Matthews are key players on special teams.

TIGHT END (4): Nick Boyle, Ben Watson, Maxx Williams, Vince Mayle

This is a much different looking group than last year, when the Ravens relied on Dennis Pitta, Darren Waller and Crockett Gillmore. Boyle and Watson will see plenty of time in two tight-end formations, and Williams can make an impact in the passing game if he continues to progress from knee surgery. Mayle is a special teams contributor who can also play wide receiver.

OFFENSIVE LINE (7): Ronnie Stanley, James Hurst, Ryan Jensen, Marshal Yanda, Austin Howard, Matt Skura, Jermaine Eluemunor

The Ravens are set at left tackle (Stanley), right guard (Yanda) and right tackle (Howard). The question marks are at center (Jensen) and right guard (Hurst). Eluemunor, a developmental rookie fifth-round pick, is being pressed to the active roster due to three linemen lost for the season (Alex Lewis, John Urschel and Nico Siragusa). In this scenario, Baltimore will bring back veteran Jeremy Zuttah after cornerback Maurice Canady qualifies for being a designated to return candidate (Canady has to be on the roster until Sunday before being placed on injured reserve).

DEFENSIVE LINE (8): Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Brent Urban, Bronson Kaufusi, Willie Henry, Carl Davis, Chris Wormley and Patrick Ricard

This is by far the deepest position on the team, and it's more defensive lineman than what Baltimore would ideally like to carry. The Ravens would best be served to trade a young defensive lineman -- perhaps Davis or Henry -- for a running back or offensive lineman. Baltimore is young and powerful up front. Williams and Pierce can be dominant inside, and Urban had an impressive preseason.

LINEBACKER (9): Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, Kamalei Correa, Matthew Judon, Patrick Onwuasor, Za'Darius Smith, Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams, Bam Bradley

Suggs, Mosley and Judon are locks as starters. Correa and Onwuasor are battling for the other inside starting spot. The Ravens have their most pass-rushers in years with Smith, Bowser and Williams. Bradley fills the special teams spot left by Albert McClellan, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week.

SECONDARY (11): Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Anthony Levine, Marlon Humphrey, Lardarius Webb, Robertson Daniel, Chuck Clark, Jaylen Hill, Maurice Canady*

The Ravens are extremely excited about this revamped secondary. Smith and Carr are the starting corners, and Webb is the nickel-back after injuries to Tavon Young and Canady, who is expected to be one of the Ravens' designated to return candidates. Weddle and Jefferson are among the best safety combinations in the NFL. Humphrey, the team's first-round pick, adds talented depth.

SPECIALIST (3): K Justin Tucker, P Sam Koch, LS Morgan Cox.

The self-proclaimed "Wolf Pack" is entering its sixth season together as one of the NFL's best special teams tandems.