Baltimore Ravens: Comparing current roster to Super Bowl 47 champions

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 03: Joe Flacco #5, Ed Reed #20 and Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrate with the VInce Lombardi trophy after the Ravens won 34-31 against the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 03: Joe Flacco #5, Ed Reed #20 and Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrate with the VInce Lombardi trophy after the Ravens won 34-31 against the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

How do the Baltimore Ravens of 2018 measure up to the Super Bowl XLVII winners? Player by player let’s see who is better at each position.

The 2017 Baltimore Ravens were one victory away from making the playoffs, and they got much better as the season went on. With the offseason moves by general manager Ozzie Newsome, the  Ravens should compete in the playoffs during the 2018-19 season. 

But this is a league where success has one great measure: Titles. So then, how does the 2018 team compare to the 2012-13 Ravens who won Super Bowl XLVII? To find out, we are going to go through the two depth charts to compare each position, sizing up the two squads.

The depth chart for the Champions is the official starting lineup for the Ravens for Super Bowl XLVII. The depth chart for the 2018 Ravens is the most current depth chart released on July 26.

Without further ado, let’s start with Flacco vs. Flacco.

Quarterback: 27-year old Joe Flacco vs. 33-year old Joe Flacco

33 years old is over the hill in the NFL, unless you play quarterback. Yes, maybe the arm has lost some strength, and yes, maybe the legs don’t move as fast. But quarterback is played largely between the ears. The brain of the quarterback is his biggest attribute, and humans get wiser with age.

It is true Flacco caught fire during the 2013 playoff run, and would probably have to do something similar to win the big game again. But the fact is, Joe Flacco is still Joe Flacco. The drop off of production from a 27-year old in the NFL to a 33-year old is not substantial enough to give either version of Flacco an edge.

The reason Flacco has struggled to win games now as opposed to the beginning of his career is about the roster. Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard and Ray Lewis moved on after the victory over the 49ers. On the offensive side of the ball, Flacco lost a key asset in Anquan Boldin as soon as the Super Bowl was over. He then lost Torrey Smith, and Jacoby Jones too soon after. Followed by the Ray Rice domestic violence incident, Flacco lost one of the best running backs in the league as well.

Quarterback is the most important position on the field, but it is not the only position. Remember the Ravens won a ring with Trent Dilfer. Flacco has proven he has what it takes to win a Super Bowl, and at 33 years old, Flacco is still Flacco.

EDGE: Toss-up

Running Back: Ray Rice vs. Alex Collins

Ray Rice could single-handedly change a game with his running or pass-catching ability. He was Flacco’s safety valve, but also able to turn into a stick of dynamite at any time. The loss of Rice was detrimental to the offense, and the Ravens have not found a capable workhorse since, until now.

Alex Collins had a spectacular year in 2017. In just 12 starts (15 total game)s, he had 1,160 total yards and six touchdowns. What if he would have started all 16 games? Collins was also not used in the passing game at all until Week 8 — as in he didn’t catch a single pass. In the final nine weeks of the season, he caught 23 balls. For what it’s worth, the Ravens’ record when Collins catches a pass is 6-3. Ravens fans can expect for Collins to be more involved in the passing game going forward.

However, Collins still needs to improve this year if he wants to surpass Rice.

EDGE: Ray Rice

Wide Receiver 1: Anquan Boldin vs. Michael Crabtree

No one misses Boldin more than Joe Flacco. Boldin led the Ravens with 65 receptions in 15 games. Why was Boldin so good? Well, it was not his blazing speed. Boldin only ran a 4.71-second 40 at the 2003 NFL Combine. What Flacco misses about Boldin is his fearless attitude. Boldin was strong with his 6-1, 220-pound frame and was never scared to go across the middle and catch balls in front of linebackers and defensive backs. 

Then we have Michael Crabtree, who was compared to Boldin in college by Scot McCloughan back in 2009.  Combined with the fact that Crabtree is much faster than Boldin, running a 4.54-second 40-yard dash at the 2009 NFL Combine exactly six years later than Anquan Boldin in 2003.

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Why point out six years? Because the Super Bowl team and the current team are six years apart, and Crabtree is actually one year younger than Boldin was in that Super Bowl season. Crabtree has every bit as good of hands as Boldin, and there is no other glaring attribute Boldin possesses over Crabtree. Flacco got his man back and then some — with a little extra speed.

EDGE: Michael Crabtree

Wide Receiver 2: Torrey Smith vs. Willie Snead

Torrey Smith was vital to the Super Bowl run. He was the guy to take the top off the defense, and cause safeties to play a little further back then they wanted to. He was also kind of a one-trick pony. He was super fast and could catch the deep ball. Well, when he wasn’t dropping it. 

Willie Snead is not fast, but he is an all-around receiver. Because he has lesser speed, he is forced to run good routes. He has been productive in the Saints offense, but that production could be more about Drew Brees than Snead.

Neither of the receivers are great, but I’m not giving the edge to Smith when all he did was run fast. The Ravens have a lot of young receivers who are fighting for this spot and a couple of them possess blazing speed too.

Time to cheat a bit.

EDGE: The Current Receiving Corps (They have someone on the current roster who will be much better than Torrey Smith by the end of the season. It may be Willie Snead.)

Wide Receiver 3: Jacoby Jones vs. John Brown

If Torrey Smith was a one trick pony, then what is Jacoby Jones? What is less than one? Whatever it is, Jones’ trick was returning kicks. However, he was a huge part of the Ravens’ Super Bowl run. He returned kicks for touchdowns, and how could we forget the last minute touchdown catch against the Denver Broncos to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive. 

The big-play glory sometimes overshadows the player he really was. With the huge plays he made, he was also the most frustrating player to watch on the entire team. He dropped so many passes.

John Brown, on the other hand, is a really good receiver. He had some very bright moments in Arizona and is already showing some chemistry with Flacco in training camp. Brown as a receiver is much better than both Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith.

EDGE: John Brown

Tight End: Dennis Pitta vs. One of the Current Guys

Dennis Pitta was a really good football player when he was healthy. The 2012 season was one of the rare seasons where Pitta actually played all 16 games. He tallied 61 receptions with 669 yards and seven touchdowns. During the playoff run, Pitta caught 14 passes for 163 Yards and three touchdowns. 

Going into this season, all eyes are on the tight end position. Who will be the starter for the Ravens? Nick Boyle started 11 games last season and did almost nothing in the passing game with those starts. The Ravens drafted Maxx Williams with a second-round pick in 2015. He was supposed to be “The Guy”, and he still may be. But up to this point, he has not been able to prove he can stay healthy. Vince Mayle was also drafted in 2015, and he has two total targets up to this point. 

The Ravens see there is still a problem at the position, and Ozzie Newsome addressed the issue in the draft. In the first round, Baltimore selected the pass-catching specialist Hayden Hurst. In the third round, they went back to the position, drafting Mark Andrews out of Oklahoma. 

The tight end position is a tough position to learn. Players must learn the blocking schemes and the route tree before they can be trusted in a live game situation. It usually takes about two years for a tight end to break out, hinting at Maxx Williams.

EDGE: Current Tight Ends. The Ravens have way too much talent at this position for Dennis Pita to get the edge. Someone will break out. 

Offensive Lines: Super Bowl O-Line vs. Current O-Line

Going to have to go to the stats on this one. We will compare the statistics from last year to the season statistics the year the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl-winning offensive line pushed the Ravens forward for 1,901 total rushing yards at 5.4 yards a pop. They gave up 38 sacks on 560 pass attempts. They were 6-of-14 on fourth-down conversions.

The 2017 Ravens rushed for 1,856 yards at 4.0 yards a carry. Okay, so they ran the ball more. They also gave up way fewer sacks (27) on more dropbacks (567). The converted 10 fourth downs on 16 attempts. The current roster also has a few talented young guys trying to make the top spot in their respective positions on the depth chart.

EDGE: Current Ravens Offensive Line

Super Bowl Team Offense vs. Current Offense

There is no doubt the current team’s offense has much more talent when compared to the 2012-13 roster.  There is also no doubt the Ravens don’t win Super Bowls with juggernaut offenses. That’s right. We all know the purple and black is known for their defense. 

EDGE: Current Team’s offense

Defensive Line: Haloti Ngata, Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Arthur Jones vs. Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and Brent Urban

Haloti Ngata may be a future Hall-of-Famer. No disrespect to Ray Lewis, but Ngata’s block eating ability was a huge reason why Lewis was as dominant as he was. 

Kemoeatu and Jones were both pretty good. Kemoeatu probably had the worst season of his career the year the Ravens won the big game, and hasn’t played pro football since. Jones, on the other hand, is a great athlete, but the only player to make a Pro-Bowl is Ngata in this group. He did it as a Raven five times.

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Brandon Williams has been a solid fixture in the middle of the Ravens defensive line since 2014. (He also may be the Ravens best dancer.) Michael Pierce was an undrafted free-agent who actually had a pretty good season statistically for the Ravens last season, starting in 13 games. Brent Urban has not proven he can play in this league just yet.

Ngata is the only one to play in a Pro Bowl, and the champs just have more experience. 

EDGE: Super Bowl Ravens Defensive Line

RUSH: 30-year old T-Sizzle vs. 36-year old T-Sizzle

Although Terrell Suggs is still a baller, this one is pretty obvious. At 36, Suggs is headed down the other side of the hill. 

It’s worth noting, though, that Ray Lewis was the heart and soul of the team for the champs at the age of 37. Suggs is still a beast on the field, but his most valuable asset to this team will be his leadership.

EDGE: 30-year old T-Sizzle

Weakside Linbacker: Dannell Ellerbe vs. Patrick Onwuasor

Dannell Ellerbe was great for the Ravens in 2012-13. It was actually the second-best season of his entire career. Ellerbe had 89 total tackles and a career-high 4.5 sacks. At 6-1, 236 pounds, he ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and was 26 years old going into the season

Patrick Onwuasor had 88 total tackles and one sack in his first year as a starter for the Ravens. He is also one year younger than Ellerbe was at 25 years old. Onwuasor didn’t get invited to the NFL Combine but ran a 4.62-second 40 at his Pro Day at 6-0, 227 pounds. 

This one is close. Both players are really similar. Ellerbe only had two good seasons, and Onwuasor has only played two seasons and has only been a starter for 1. Yet, his stats are equal to an Ellerbe outlier season. Onwuasor should only get better.

EDGE: Patrick Onwuasor

Middle Linebacker: Ray Lewis vs. C.J. Mosley

You could make a case for Mosley considering the fact that Ray Lewis was 37. However, I will not be doing that. 

EDGE: The GOAT, Ray Lewis

Strong Side Linebacker: Courtney Upshaw vs. Matthew Judon

Courtney Upshaw was a rookie second-round pick for the Ravens. The funny thing is, he probably had his best season as a pro during his rookie campaign, and it was not anything to write home about. Upshaw is strong and…well, that’s about it. Upshaw has earned the dreaded bust label.

On the other hand, Matthew Judon is looking like he may be a future Pro Bowler. He already has 12 sacks in two seasons and has only been a starter for 12 games. Last season, Judon had eight sacks, more than Upshaw has in his NFL career to this point.

Judon is still fighting for the starting job because of the depth the Ravens have at linebacker this season. Tyus Bowser was drafted in the second round out of Houston in 2017, and he is no joke. Bowser and Judon will both see the field this year, but if we are just talking starters, Judon is better than Upshaw.

EDGE: Matthew Judon

Cornerback 1: Corey Graham vs. Brandon Carr

Corey Graham made a Pro Bowl in 2011 and has been a Super Bowl champion twice. He is a solid corner, left and nickel. During the 2012-13 season, Graham was in his prime at the age of 27. Brandon Carr is 32 years old and is no longer in his prime, but he’s no slouch. He has been holding his own since 2008, starting every single game since Week 1 of that season.

While this one is pretty close, it is still clear who gains the edge. Carr is on the backside of his career. He has never been named to a Pro Bowl and has never won a Super Bowl. 

EDGE: Corey Graham

Cornerback 2: Cary Williams vs. 30-year old Jimmy Smith 

Cary Williams might have had the best season of his career in 2012-13, and he got paid by the Eagles because of it. He had career highs in interceptions, interception yards, touchdowns, pass defenses, sacks and solo tackles. We will always remember, and be grateful for the exceptional season Williams turned in, but there are few corners in the game better than Jimmy Smith.

Smith gets no respect for his talent as a shutdown corner. At 6-2 with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine, Smith can cover anyone. When Smith is on the field, you feel good about your chances.

EDGE: 30-year old Jimmy Smith

Cornerback 3: 24-year old Jimmy Smith vs. Marlon Humphrey

For Jimmy Smith, we’re talking about a younger and faster version of everything about the 30-year old Jimmy Smith. Already forgot? Look in the above section if you need a reminder. 

Marlon Humphrey is knocking on the door to end Carr’s consecutive start streak. Humphrey was drafted with the 16th overall pick in the 2017 draft out of Alabama. It is only a matter of time before he cements himself as a star in this defense, but at 22 years old, he will need some time.

EDGE: 24-year old Jimmy Smith

Free safety: Ed Reed vs. Eric Weddle

Ravens fans love Eric Weddle. He has quickly become a fan favorite…

Who am I kidding?

EDGE- Ed Reed

Strong Safety: Bernard Pollard vs. Tony Jefferson

Bernard Pollard was a thumper. He was a guy who put up tackle numbers most linebackers are jealous of. Pollard actually led the Ravens in tackles during the Super Bowl season while missing three games (Ray Lewis missed 10, for what it’s worth). He was all over the field in the run game. He forced fumbles and constantly unfurled highlight-reel hits. He also would add a couple sacks each year. Pollard was a key run-stopper and enforcer in a nasty Baltimore defense.

Tony Jefferson is the same type of player as Pollard in the run game. He may not be quite the thumper, but he may be a little better in coverage than Pollard. With the rule changes protecting the players’ heads, Pollard’s play style would be less effective today, but we are not talking about today. Effectiveness is what counts in this comparison.

EDGE: Bernard Pollard

Next. NFL 2018: Each team's biggest obstacle this year. dark

Super Bowl Champion Defense vs. Current Defense

With three maybe four players who will be celebrated in Canton, the Super Bowl-winning Ravens have the edge.

EDGE: Super Bowl Champs Defense

However, if the current Ravens defense continues to improve, they may just have enough firepower to make a deep run in the playoffs in a year the national media is giving them no respect. 

No respect? That sounds familiar.