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Analysis: Too soon to predict Leach's future with Ravens

Did the Baltimore Ravens picking Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth-round of the NFL draft further raise questions about Vonta Leach's future with team? Absolutely.

But it's still too soon to speculate whether Leach's future with the Ravens will extend into the regular season.

"We want to make decisions based on how guys perform out on the football field," Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome said Saturday. "We're going to get Kyle [Juszczyk] in here, and the thing we like about Kyle, other than his ability to play on the offensive side, is we expect him to be a very good special teams contributor. So, could there be a place for both of them? Yes, there could be. Because as [coach] John [Harbaugh] and I try to put our 53-man squad together, we want to keep the best 53 players."

Leach's future with Baltimore has been speculated about for much of the last few months.

Leach is still regarded by most as the top fullback in the NFL, but his role was greatly diminished last year as the Ravens transitioned to more of a wide-open, up-tempo offense. He was on the field for just 41 percent of Baltimore's offensive snaps last year (including the playoffs) after being on the field for 53 percent of the snaps in 2011 and he's set to count $4.33 million against the salary cap for a Ravens team with limited room under the cap.

Would it be a surprise if Leach is still on the roster in September at his current cap figure? To many, yes, especially with Juszczyk now on the roster.

But it may be awhile before the Ravens make any decision on Leach.

Simply put, there's no reason for them to.

Baltimore has enough room under the salary cap to sign a free-agent if it so desires (around $4 million) and, considering that, it's only fair to expect that Baltimore will want to see how Juszczyk fares during minicamps, organized team activities and training camp before making any decision on Leach.

But, at the very least, Juszczyk provides the Ravens with flexibility, is a player whose upside the Ravens' brass seemed enthusiastic about this past weekend and is a player who bears watching during the months leading up to the season.

Juszczyk was the consensus top-rated fullback in this year's draft.

He's highly regarded as a blocker, and he impressed Baltimore with his blocking at the Senior Bowl in January, but he's also a versatile player who has shown the capability to be a factor as a pass-catcher as well.

Juszczyk caught 125 passes for 1,576 yards and 22 touchdowns during his career at Harvard, including 52 passes for 706 yards and eight scores as a senior last season.

"He is a very versatile player," Harbaugh said. "He is a guy that can play as a fullback in a two-back offense. He is a guy who can play as a U-back or an H-back, an underneath back in the motion, second tight end, two-tight end stuff. I think you can put him on the line - it won't be his thing - but if you had to, you could put him on the line as a tight end. And, he splits out and plays as a wide receiver a bunch for Harvard.

"[Harvard coach] Tim Murphy played him pretty much everywhere there. He is a very versatile guy, so you feel like you pick up a roster spot or two when you put him on your 46-man roster, if he can earn that. On top of all that, he has already proven to be an excellent special teams player for a 250-, 255-pound guy, so that's a big plus, too."

As far as what his presence means for the future of Leach: Stay tuned.

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