The Ravens unveiled their first official depth chart of training camp Thursday.
The early depth chart is regarded as an initial guide to the lineups and definitely isn't set in stone, but does offer some insight into the Ravens' plans.
Among the highlights:
- Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is listed as the starting nose guard. Ngata has lined up at nose guard quite a bit during training camp, also playing his usual defensive tackle spot. With Terrence Cody coming off a disappointing season and promising rookie Brandon Williams still learning on the job, deploying Ngata inside flanked by Chris Canty on his right and Arthur Jones on his left could be a way to get the Ravens' best defensive linemen on the field together.
- James Ihedigbo is the first-string strong safety ahead of rookie first-round pick Matt Elam. Ihedigbo is a veteran and the Super Bowl champions don't believe in handing out starting jobs to rookies immediately, making them earn their status on the football team. This competition will play out throughout the preseason, but Elam has been impressive so far.
- Jacoby Jones is listed as the starting wide receiver opposite Torrey Smith (Maryland), with Deonte Thompson and Tandon Doss designated as the top backups. The receiver depth chart, in particular, should be written in pencil. Jones has had his moments in camp, but will be pushed for playing time. Unless someone separates himself from the pack during the preseason games, this is shaping up as a committee approach.
- Gino Gradkowski is the starting center ahead of A.Q. Shipley. This is one of the Ravens' better competitions, but Gradkowski, as expected, has the initial edge.
- Daryl Smith is listed as the starting “Mike” linebacker or middle linebacker inside. That's no shocker considering the former Jacksonville Jaguars starter's experience level and how he's performed.
- Although on the physically unable to perform list, Jameel McClain (spinal cord contusion) is still listed as the other starting inside linebacker ahead of Josh Bynes and rookie second-round pick Arthur Brown. Another nod to a veteran who's a returning starter. Like Elam, Brown will have to earn his stripes.
- Lardarius Webb and Corey Graham are the starting cornerbacks ahead of Jimmy Smith. That's the pecking order. It doesn't matter as much who starts at cornerback since the Ravens will often line up with three cornerbacks. After a strong playoffs where he intercepted Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning twice, Graham has a leg up on Smith, a big, fast former first-round draft pick.
- At Sam or strongside outside linebacker, Courtney Upshaw is listed as the starter or Elvis Dumervil, the former Broncos Pro Bowl pass rusher. Dumervil routinely runs with the first defense after signing a $35 million maximum value deal this offseason, and Upshaw rotates into the base defense.