“Versatility” is a buzzword with offensive linemen that is often identified as an asset, but is subject to misuse.
It’s nice to have someone on the bench who can play C/G or a guard who can play tackle decently if the need arises. It’s also nice to have a guy who won’t be a big downgrade if forced to move from RT to LT.
However, it’s not a positive to have a set of tackles that “might be more effective inside”. That’s not versatility, it’s an inability to play the primary position well. It is analogous to having 3rd basemen and 2nd basemen on your roster that “might be more successful at 1st base”. In general, if you have tackles, you want them to be able to play tackle effectively, because there are many more athletes of the appropriate size and shape to play guard.
Over the past few years, the Ravens have failed to find a long-term solution at LT. In an attempt to compensate, they have stockpiled a large number of RTs, perhaps with the hope one will pan out as a LT. To use another baseball analogy, accumulating RTs in hopes of finding a LT is like trying to improve a weak starting rotation by accumulating relievers.
With strong guards now in place, the Ravens have distinct questions at the other 3 OL positions:
- LT: Do the Ravens try to find another stopgap and either draft a developmental LT this year or move up to draft a physically gifted player either this year or next?
- C: Who do they acquire or draft as a backup to Gradkowski? Alternatively, should Yanda practice as the backup C?
- RT: With several candidates signed (Harewood, Reid, Oher), how does the organization determine who can step up if it is determined they will not offer Michael Oher a long-term deal or injury forces a replacement?
Each player has 3 grades:
- The Play grade is a representation of how well he played vs. his positional peers last season. It is not a representation of value relative to salary.
- The Value grade is a representation of the player’s contribution relative to 2012 cap expenditure. Great players, at mid career (after signing their first FA contract), will almost never be graded an A in this category since they are typically paid the market price for their services. It’s not a slap in the face to be graded a C here, but the best front offices will have many more As and Bs than Ds and Fs because they consistently uncover value in the draft and sign bargain free agents. A player who does not miss time due to injury, but otherwise performs exactly as might be expected by his contract would be graded a B-. In the case of linebackers and secondary, this grade includes consideration for their contributions on special teams.
- The Developmental grade is an indication of how much the player improved relative to expectation as well as a measure of future expectations. The primary reason to expect growth (or decline) is age, but injuries (particularly changes to prospective durability), leadership, position changes, etc. were all lumped in this category. Even a 35-year-old gets a developmental grade.
Snap totals and percentages include only non-penalty snaps which were played competitively (excludes kneels and spikes) for both regular and postseason games unless noted otherwise. The 2012 Ravens had 1,286 such offensive snaps as a unit in 20 games.
I did not complete a box for Gradkowski. He played just 71 snaps, so I don’t think I’d have much meaningful to say.
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