When you look at the Ravens roster as training camp approaches, their depth at certain positions is clear.
While the running back group doesn’t have a game-changing playmaker, it’s depth is impressive. Lorenzo Taliaferro and Terrance West were third- and fourth-round picks just two years ago. The fact that they will likely compete for the last running back roster spot is evidence of how stacked Thomas Hammock’s unit is.
Other areas, though – particularly the offensive line – still look quite thin.
Despite Ozzie Newsome’s best efforts, Kelechi Osemele left for more lucrative pastures. And after two frustrating and injury-riddled seasons the Ravens’ patience with Eugene Monroe was finally exhausted.
Needless to say, the left side of the Ravens offensive line will look much different come September 11th.
Early reports on Ronnie Stanley have been nothing but positive. According to Clifton Brown of CSN Mid-Atlantic, everyone including his teammates have been impressed.
“He keeps his mouth quiet and goes about his business,” said Marshal Yanda according to Brown. “He seems like a good kid, a hardworking guy, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about him from guys around the locker room.”
High praise from an All-Pro guard and one of the best players in Ravens history. But what if Stanley struggles early on? What if he gets injured?
The Ravens were clearly tired of Monroe’s lack of reliability, and you can’t blame them. But it’s a risky move to trust a rookie, even if he is the sixth overall pick, to protect your franchise quarterback who is coming off of major knee surgery. Early reports on Stanley are very positive, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him eventually become a top five tackle. However, it also wouldn’t be surprising if he struggles early on.
Ozzie Newsome is a master at finding key contributors who are training camp cap casualties. Adding a contingency plan to compete with Stanley or serve as a quality backup would be a wise move.
With Stanley slated to start at left tackle, the left guard position appears to be the only spot along the offensive line with any sort of open competition. John Urschel ran with the first team during mandatory minicamp. It looks like it’s his job to lose, but he’ll face competition from Ryan Jensen, veteran Vlad Ducasse and rookie Alex Lewis. Urschel has started a handful of games over his first two seasons and even started two playoff games as a rookie in 2014, but he’ll have to win the job outright during training camp.
With over $12 million in cap room, the Ravens could add more veteran competition. Teams aren’t finished shedding veteran players who no longer justify their salaries and Newsome has found quality players during the summer months in years past. Don’t be surprised if he brings even more veteran competition to compete with Urschel.
The Ravens are deep in some areas, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but quality depth along the offensive line remains a need. At the moment the Ravens are trusting a rookie at left tackle without much behind him.
Starting Ronnie Stanley is a risky move, but having no depth other than James Hurst is asking for trouble. Especially for a team that still claims to have a run-first mentality.