“This is a strange year for offensive tackles — there are no top-five-type talents in this class. [The Ravens pick No. 16] is about the range where I expect the first tackle to go. Ramczyk, Cam Robinson and Garett Bolles are all on the board, but I’m going with Ramczyk, who’s a better prospect at right tackle. Baltimore has Ronnie Stanley, the No. 6 overall pick in 2016, on the left side, and Ramczyk (6-6, 310) would upgrade the right side over former undrafted free agent James Hurst.” ~ Mel Kiper
I love Mel Kiper, Jr. but despite James Hurst, I hate this pick!
Another first round tackle for the Ravens?
Would Ryan Ramczyk, Robinson or Bolles be an upgrade over Alex Lewis who could slide out to right tackle?
Would the Ravens improve this year or even over the long haul by investing another first-rounder on an offensive lineman and ignore needs at wide receiver, edge rusher and cornerback — again?
Essentially the Ravens would be trading Rick Wagner for a rookie tackle who is anything but a lead-pipe lock.
Is that improvement?
[The balance of Kiper’s first round is listed beneath the poll below]
Last year about this time, SI’s Peter King reminded us that an investment of a high draft pick at tackle isn’t exactly a safe bet. King reasoned at the time, that “in the past 10 years there have been five tackles chosen either first or second overall. Above-average starting tackles today among those five: zero.”
King went on to write, “Of the 17 tackles picked in the top 10 since 2005, only three were ever first-team All-Pro.”
Ronnie Stanley could buck this trend but even if he doesn’t (there are only 2 All-Pro tackles each year), chances are he’ll be a fixture for a long time at left tackle for the Ravens. And longevity is exactly what you want from a No. 6 overall pick in an NFL Draft.
But this year, at No. 16, the Ravens have to acquire a playmaker – a stud. Someone who touches the quarterback or the football. They can’t afford to reach for a right tackle at No. 16 and then let him go five years down the line when cap space dictates that the team can only extend elite pay to one offensive tackle.
Remember Osemele v. Yanda? (3rd and 2nd round picks respectively, btw)
The Ravens need this pick to be a difference maker in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. A reach for need in a thin tackle draft isn’t exactly what a coaching staff on shaky ground covets — not exactly a player who alters the team’s regular failures during the final frame of games.
Besides, questions surround each of the players mentioned above by Mel Kiper. Ramczyk is coming off hip and labrum surgery and has fallen in and out of love with the game of football. Could he make some cash and call it quits in a few years? Robinson has been tagged as being lazy at times and has had run-ins with the law over drugs and handguns. Bolles was expelled from five schools as a teenager which morphed into issues with drugs and an arrest for vandalizing a rival’s field. He claims to be a changed man, but the red flags are there and it makes the investment riskier.
The Ravens would be better off trying to select a tackle or guard on day 2 of the draft and instead find a player in round one who can make others around him better. Maybe a receiver who must be accounted for by multiple defenders and opens up the offense; an edge rusher who makes the secondary stronger; or a corner who maintains position long enough to help generate coverage sacks and/or turnovers.
Improving the offensive line is important. Scheme can help do that. A running game can help also. Look what it did for the Ravens 2014 offensive line when Gary Kubiak came along. That season was a career changer for Rick Wagner. Maybe it could be for another of the Ravens next-man-up offensive linemen. Offensive assistant Greg Roman can provide a Kubiak kind of effect on the team’s offense.
Forget this talk about a first-round tackle. Reaching for one in the first round is just lather-rinse-repeat. The Ravens won’t improve that way. It’ll be the same old, same old. They’d be better off taking a one or two-year playing-time incentive-laden flyer on injury-prone Ryan Clady.
Go and get a guy in the first-round who will be a near-career Raven.
Not the next Rick Wagner.
Still on The Board
(After Ravens pick at No. 16 of Ryan Ramczyk, Tackle, Wisconsin)
17. Christian McCaffrey
18. John Ross
19. Corey Davis
20. David Njoku
21. Charles Harris
22. Forrest Lamp
23. Derek Barnett
24. Tre’Davious White
25. Cam Robinson
26. Kevin King
27. Zay Jones
28. Jabrill Pepper
29. Dalvin Cook
30. Tyus Bowser
31. Taco Charlton
32. Marlon Humphrey