The Baltimore Ravens appear to have found their latest diamond in the rough in undrafted rookie linebacker Josh Ross, who will make the team’s 53-man roster after a strong preseason.
Jim Harbaugh, Ross’ coach at the University of Michigan and brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, revealed that his former linebacker would be the latest undrafted rookie to make the team in Baltimore, according to On3’s Clayton Sayfie.
“Really exciting news, too, my brother, John, says Josh is going to make the team,” said Jim Harbaugh on the Inside Michigan Football radio show.
“He’s doing great. John really thought he would make the 53,” continued Harbaugh. “They’ve got a record at the Ravens – 18, 19 years of an undrafted player making the team.”
Indeed, Ar’Darius Washington made it 18 of the last 19 years that an undrafted rookie reached the Ravens’ 53-man roster in 2021, tied for the longest active streak with the New England Patriots. Ross’ inclusion on the 2022 roster would make it 19 of the last 20 seasons, a stretch that has included All-Pro linebackers like Bart Scott and Zach Orr.
Ross Played Under Ravens’ DC in College
Ross spent his final season at Michigan under defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who now has the same job in Baltimore. It’s clear from Ross’ performance in the preseason that his preexisting comfort in Macdonald’s defensive system eased his transition to the NFL.
Macdonald even called Ross “one of the favorite players at Michigan that I’ve coached on a day-to-day basis” during an August 24 press conference.
“He deserves a lot of credit for the position he’s put himself in,” continued Macdonald. “We love Josh, and he fits just right in here. He’s a true Michigan man, and he’s also a Raven.”
Ross Earns Spot on Special Teams
But Ross’ special teams experience at Michigan also primed him to compete for a roster spot in Baltimore, where such versatility often determines the final roster spots.
Jim Harbaugh singled out Ross’ ability on special teams during his radio appearance, saying:
What separated him at the beginning was his special teams play, that he had been in a pro punt system. It was a huge advantage for him to be in a pro punt system like he was here at Michigan, the way Jay taught him. And then it was second nature when he got to the Ravens. That gave him a big jump, and he just played his way into making the team.
In case the special teams focus didn’t give it away, Jay is Jay Harbaugh, son of Jim and nephew of John, who served as an assistant coach in Baltimore under his uncle for three seasons.
Jay Harbaugh’s preference for a pro-style system for punts – as opposed to the shield formation that’s more common in college but illegal in the NFL – prepared Ross for a role in Baltimore, where special teams prowess has long been valued.
But, as Jim Harbaugh alluded to, Ross emerged as a playmaker on defense in Baltimore as well. He not only led the Ravens with 20 tackles, but finished eighth among all NFL defenders in the preseason, per CBS Sports. Of Baltimore’s defenders that played at least 15 snaps across their three games, Ross’ 88.0 overall defensive grade from Pro Football Focus was a distant first, with especially high pass coverage grades in his first two games.
“Tomorrow, we’ll find out, but looks great for Josh Ross,” Harbaugh concluded.