On Thursday, second-year Baltimore Ravens offensive guard Kelechi Osemele announced that his expectations for the 2013 season are “Pro Bowl or bust,” per Ryan Mink of the team’s official website.
For a player who is just learning the left guard position, that type of expectation by him, and his coaches, would seem lofty. However, that’s not the case with Osemele.
After playing left tackle at Iowa State, he was moved to right tackle during training camp last season with the Ravens. He played the entire regular season at right tackle, and excelled given his lack of experience at the position. But, all along, left guard was calling his name.
Osemele isn’t incapable of playing tackle in the NFL, but his skillset translates much better to a guard position. So, the Ravens finally called his number when the playoffs began, as they moved him to left guard to accompany the return of left tackle Bryant McKinnie.
In the playoffs, Osemele was nothing short of stellar.
He made it seem as if he had been playing guard all year long given his dominating performance in the four playoff games. With McKinnie and Matt Birk on each side of him, he was given ample opportunity to display his skills, and, especially in run blocking situations, he excelled.
Osemele’s body type (thick and stout) is the perfect combination to accompany his long arms as a run blocker. That translated to instant success in the playoffs. With McKinnie returning to play left tackle again in 2013, Osemele has a full offseason to prepare himself to play left guard.
If he played so well at guard with just one week of preparation last season, imagine how much success he’ll have with a full offseason of preparation. When it comes to the NFL, the Pro Bowl doesn’t mean everything, but when it comes to acknowledging a player’s success, it is often a useful metric.
Osemele has a prime chance to assert himself as one of the game’s up-and-coming offensive linemen, if he already hasn’t done so.
In 2013, there’s no reason that Osemele shouldn’t excel, and the expectation should be that the Osemele/Marshal Yanda combination can be one of the best guard duos in the NFL. Even if Osemele doesn’t make the Pro Bowl, he’ll surely be playing at a high level this season.
Sooner than later, he may very well be in the running for an All-Pro selection.