As the Ravens prepare for Thursday’s draft, left tackle remains the team’s biggest area of need.
If the Ravens were preparing to walk out on the field for their September 5th season opener against the Denver Broncos with the team they have right now, head coach John Harbaugh informed owner Steve Bisciotti that second-year lineman Kelechi Osemele would be lining up at left tackle.
On Tuesday, Osemele met with the media for the first time this offseason. Even though Osemele has expressed his preference to play at guard, he appreciates the fact that he is so highly regarded by his coaches that they think he could be plugged into practically any position along the offensive line.
“It gives me confidence to know that they trust me to be able to utilize me and plug me in at different positions,” he said. “It’s always a good feeling to feel trusted like that.”
Harbaugh hasn’t specifically approached Osemele about switching positions and it appears that he found out the same time everyone else did. The deciding factors as to whether Osemele actually ends up starting the season at left tackle will be 1) the draft; and more importantly, 2) what happens with former left tackle and current free agent Bryant McKinnie.
“I’d love to have [McKinnie] back here,” Osemele said. “He’s a great asset to our team, just a powerful weapon to have, especially with both of us on the same side.”
The final and strongest alignment of the offensive line came during the playoffs when McKinnie was thrust into the starting lineup and Osemele moved from right tackle to left guard. The unit allowed only allowed six sacks in the four playoff games through their Super Bowl XLVII victory.
“If we could repeat that, that would be good,” Osemele said about having McKinnie line up next to him. “I trust [general manager/executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome], and those guys know what they’re doing as well and know direction they want to kind of direct our team into. So, whatever they decide to do, I trust them fully.”
Wherever Osemele ends up lining up against the Broncos on September 5, he’ll be comfortable. He just needs to adapt mentally first.
“I guess it’s just flipping the plays in your head,” he said when asked about the differences between playing both sides of the line at either tackle or guard. “As far as guard and tackle, it’s completely different as far as your technique goes. Playing left tackle and right tackle is all about being comfortable in your stance and being able to get out and being able to kick. If you are comfortable kicking from both sides, it doesn’t make too much of a difference.
During last year’s draft, most fans had no idea who Osemele was or how to even pronounce his name after the Ravens chose him in the second round. Judging from his body of work so far, fans should remember to not judge a player the Ravens select this week harshly just because “I’ve never heard of that guy.”