Reports came in early today that the Ravens were close to agreeing to terms on a two year deal with the nine year left tackle, veteran Bryant McKinnie. McKinnie was cut by the Vikings on August 3rd after he reportedly showed up to camp overweight, tipping the scales close to 400 pounds.
Signing McKinnie is a great move by the almighty Oz. By bringing in a veteran with a track record such as McKinnie’s there is a sense of stability to the O tackle position… almost. Assuming he can shed a few pounds and drop back to his playing weight which is listed at 335 McKinnie can step in and provide healthy competition at the left tackle position where Michael Oher has struggled some during the past one plus seasons.
Look back three years ago to Michael Oher’s first season in the NFL. He was a dominant force on the offensive line playing at the right tackle position while Jared Gaither held down the blind side for Joe Cool. Oher did play 5 games on the left side after Gaither went down with an injury and since then has played the left tackle position effectively, but with some headaches. Oher was nominated for Rookie of the year listed as a right tackle and finished second in voting after excelling at his position.
Signing McKinnie gives the Ravens a few options as far as the O line is concerned, and believe me there are concerns. I don’t think any of us would feel comfortable with Jah Reid or even newly acquired Mark LeVoir at right tackle week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers while Marshall Yanda sits at guard.
On the other hand the idea of Yanda not playing his natural position, where he is Pro Bowl worthy, in order to play right tackle while Oniel Cousins (assuming he makes the team) slips into the right guard slot, only puts a “band aid” on a problem that needs a real solution – a solution that Bryant McKinnie can play a large role in.
If Mckinnie can drop his weight and is conditioned enough for week one the Ravens will be in better offensive line shape than many people think. The coaching staff could start McKinnie at left tackle, something he is more than familiar with, and move Oher back to the right side where he has shown he can play at a very effective level. With the tackles locked down Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda would be able to continue their high quality performance careers at the left and right guard spot respectively.