The Baltimore Ravens are fresh off a 2016 draft in which they used the sixth overall pick on Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley, much to the dismay of many fans, as it was not a “flashy” pick, especially when the Ravens desperately needed playmakers.
Fast forward to this year, and the Ravens are in a similar situation. Slated to pick 16th in Thursday night’s first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the options should be plenty, potentially ranging from an impact offensive player such as Clemson’s Mike Williams, to Western Michigan’s Corey Davis or Alabama’s O.J. Howard (although Howard may be the first off the board of the three).
Or on the defensive side, the Ravens could go the route of an impact defender such as Temple linebacker Haason Reddick or Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey, among many others.
But what if, after all of these months of dreaming about an impact playmaker, the Ravens go back to the trenches in the first round?
If Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp is available at 16, do not be surprised if that is the case. Lamp is the most complete offensive line prospect in this year’s draft, and would be an immediate starter for the Ravens.
Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta recently mentioned the importance of a strong and complete offensive line, and after finding two starters in last year’s draft in Stanley and Alex Lewis, the front office very well may look to find at least one other starter in this year’s draft.
A left tackle in college, Lamp was a four-year starter with 51 starts under his belt. He was a third-team All-American as a senior, and is one of the best athletes in the draft relative to the position he plays. While a four-year left tackle, Lamp’s measurables (6’4, 32 1/4″ arms) lend to the belief that he is better suited to play guard in the NFL.
Lamp’s build is reminiscent of Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin when he came out as a prospect in 2014: a tackle lacking in height and length, but not in talent. Martin made the switch from tackle to guard when he was drafted by Dallas, and is a two-time first-team All-Pro after three NFL seasons.
Following a path similar to Martin’s seems to be the best route for Lamp in order to maximize his chance to succeed at the next level.
Let’s take a look at what makes Lamp such an intriguing prospect, and why he very well may be an option for the Ravens if available when Baltimore is on the clock.
Despite a smaller frame, Lamp is a bully as a run blocker, and is constantly aware of his surroundings.
Lamp displays the pure physicality and strength needed to be successful in the run game, while also flashing his awareness of the direction of the run play, turning his man at the last minute as the ball carrier bursts up the middle.
In terms of adjusting to the NFL, as long as Lamp continues to fill out his somewhat lacking 309-pound frame, he should not have many issues as a run blocker.
The adjustment may be greater in pass protection, especially if Lamp stays at tackle.
As a pass protector, however, Lamp’s footwork, technique and balance stand out.
He stays calm and collected while taking on pass rushers, and does not get flustered at the point of contact. He compensates for any deficiencies in size with premier hand usage and form.
Lamp’s above-average athleticism also allows him to keep up with faster edge rushers.
Take a play against Alabama pass-rushing prospect Tim Williams – one of the better pure pass rushers in this year’s class – for example.
Lamp naturally is at a disadvantage from the get-go given Williams’ speed and bend around the edge. However, he is not phased by the speedy pass rusher, embraces the contact, and maintains consistent footwork to recover as Williams works around the outside.
Plays like the one against Williams show how Lamp can be the complete package in the NFL.
Where he shows weaknesses is when his lack of arm length can lead to mishaps. Not having the long arms to stay put and simply create a barrier between himself and the pass rusher can lead to issues.
Lamp typically has enough strength and athleticism to compensate for his non-ideal physical makeup, however plays such as the one above are an example of why he may be better suited at guard in the NFL, where he can play in a more confined area.
As a darn near clone of Martin in terms of size, Lamp should follow in his footsteps in converting to guard to optimize his NFL success. Lamp would still be a fine tackle, but he would have a lower ceiling than at guard.
In Baltimore’s offense, Lamp would ideally move to left guard, with Lewis kicking out to right tackle, as Lewis has better length and size for the position. But what also makes Lamp such a great fit for the Ravens is the frequency of shuffling along the offensive front by the team. Given Lamp’s ability to essentially play anywhere along the line, at any given week due to injury of another player, Lamp could play any of four positions in a pinch.
The Ravens seem to take a liking to offensive line prospects who can play multiple positions, so it would not be a surprise if Lamp is on their radar heading into the first round.