Eric Winston Not Right For Right Tackle

Cardinals 49ers Football
Photo Credit: Greg Trott, Associated Press

One of the uncertainties facing the Baltimore Ravens as they work through OTA’s and prepare for training camp is the position of right tackle.

Most observers would concur that the team’s offensive front is 80% complete and that the right side is the unanimous choice as the offense’s weakest link.

Some have debated the merits of Kelechi Osemele moving out to right tackle and allow Ryan Jensen and John Urschel to battle it out for the left guard job. But based upon the enthusiasm amongst the coaching staff during OTA’s generated by the paired up tandem of Osemele and Eugene Monroe, it seems that the team’s preference is to build a dominant left side.

And Osemele appears to concur.

When asked if he has a preference playing guard or tackle the physically imposing guard left no doubt.

“Left guard because of the ridiculous amount of reps that we have at practice every day. That’s muscle memory, so that’s what I’m comfortable with.”

Yet he added, “Obviously getting the best five out there is what we’re going to do.”

When building an offensive line, it’s sometimes not all about having the best player by position but instead the best and most complementary combination of players. We witnessed that during the Ravens’ historic run through the playoffs in 2012.

Yet the question remains, “Who will play right tackle?”

At this point the Ravens have nothing to lose by allowing Rick Wagner and Jensen to square off. Both have reconfigured their bodies and look stronger. And if the left side becomes as dominant as the coaches seem to think, opposing defenses may be forced to counterattack by rolling reinforcements that way, effectively lightening the challenges on the right side.

But the possibility exists that it could still fail.

The team would then look to acquire a training camp casualty from another team or they could make a trade.

Pro personnel execs Vince Newsome and George Kokinis have already scoured league rosters to project players that may become available. Yet the name that continues to surface and with good reason is that of Eric Winston.

Winston is available and familiar with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s offense. He understands the blocking schemes and he had his best seasons as a member of the Houston Texans.

During his final season with Kubiak (2011) Winston graded out at the 10th best overall tackle according to Pro Football Focus. Yet he wasn’t re-signed by the Texans and moved on to Kansas City in 2012 and to the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 where he ranked 26th and 69th respectively amongst NFL tackles.

Has the 30-year-old, 8-year vet hit the backend downward slide of his career?

Will he be as focused now that he’s the NFLPA President?

Is his attention more on his post playing career?

Could he be hanging around for another year or two for the money only?

And might he become a divisive force in the locker room with a staunch pro-union stance?

All legitimate questions that the Ravens need to get comfortable with. The fact that he isn’t yet a Raven is proof that they are NOT comfortable. Money isn’t yet the issue. According to one source the team hasn’t even broached that subject with Winston.

Another sourced hinted that signing Winston would amount to a reluctant concession – a signing they would welcome with trepidation.

As they so often do, the Ravens will exhibit patience and let this play out.

If neither Wagner nor Jensen is the answer and Jah Reid doesn’t have an epiphany that changes his life and career, the Ravens will address the position.

And it’s unlikely to be the guy that the NFLPA calls Mr. President.

Who will play right tackle to start the season for the Ravens?
Rick Wagner (40%)
Ryan Jensen (17%)
Jah Reid (2%)
James Hurst (16%)
Eric Winston (6%)
Free agent to be determined (19%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.
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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

12 Raves on “Eric Winston Not Right For Right Tackle

  1. Scott on said:

    Agree on all your points about Winston in terms of where he is in his career and the concession it would represent to bring him in. I am sure the team would prefer Wagner to hold down the RT position himself. But I don’t get how Wibston’s role as NFLPA president could make him “a divisive force” in the locker room. Every team has an elected NFLPA player representative “in the locker room” already. The locker room is 100% NFLPA members. Do you mean Winston’s presence in the locker room would piss off the management? Maybe, but they’ve had past NFLPA presidents on the team before. I think Bisciotti can handle it.

  2. JWS on said:

    TL, Glad to see you back in action over all the young kids writing for you. It amazes me that, not only your writings but all newspaper and media writings influence most NFL fans opinions. Take today’s article when you mention Wagner who by the way failed terrible at right tackle last year giving up 3 sacks in his short time at right tackle and your vote gave him more of the votes. Winston’schores as heda of someunion matters will not interfere with his prctice or playing time.Is it wise to sign him at his salry amount after two bad seasons at right tackle should be the question and teh answer is he should NOT be signed! We missed you and we love you.

  3. Anonymous on said:

    Would like to see us go with a 1st or 2nd year guy (Hurst, Jensen, Wagner) for the value and to try to keep an OL together for a while. Monroe, Yanda, and Zuttah bring plenty of veteran presence. We can get away w/ the right newbie in such a context.

    What’s Winston injury history? He’s aging, to be sure, but I’m surprised he is still available at this point. He’ll go to the first bidder who has an OT come up lame in training camp. Not worried about his union status. I take that (like Urschel’s math aptitude) to be a good sign. We had the DB who retired into that NFLPA chief a couple seasons back. It’s not only a sign of intelligence, but good character as well.

    Should the time come to make a call on Winston, it will be good to have Kubes’ longitudinal POV in the mix.

  4. r mattioli on said:

    amazing that the team continues to stack young defenders 3 deep while ignoring/filling key offensive positions with guys past their primes/projects and udfas…apparently theres a certain amount of cognitive dissonance present in the front office since the super bowl win…..all respect to the seattle seahawks,but it`s becoming an offensively domianant league(and last time I checked,the ravens don`t have a bellcow back like lynch to give flacco some support)….

    if the offense struggles again this year,will the light go off in the collective brains of the front office?…you can`t continually treat the offense like a stepchild….the league is evolving as the rule changes continue to alter the way it`s played…we`d better start evolving with it…

    • Crystal on said:

      The Ravens are a team led by defense. They take pride in it. I am glad they aren’t changing the identity of the team just to suit common offense-happy fans…

      • r mattioli on said:

        it`s called “balance”,crystal…..you keep continually stockpiling young talent on one side of the ball while the other side is filled in with castoffs and udfa`s,you hurt the team and hamstring your biggest investment..you end up with talented players sitting on the bench on one side and leave holes in the other…..you lose all continuity ….

        we had injuries last year on offense…and it showed exactly what I`m pointing out… our starters at certain positions were poor(some very sketchy talent evaluations were made) and our depth was laughable…

        check the stats…check our qb`s stats…you really think the front office did due diligence?….I don`t…

  5. Anonymous on said:

    I agree that Winston is the wrong person because he played horribly last season. However, being head of the NFLPA is actually something in his favor because it shows that other NFL players look up to him as a leader. The Ravens strongly value leadership and that would have to be in Winston’s favor if only he were still a good player.

    My hope is that they wait until a good veteran gets cut near the end of preseason and then sign that person, just like they did with McKinnie. Last year they took a leap of faith with a different second-year lineman (Gradkowski) and it cost them dearly. I hope the Ravens would not make that same mistake twice.

  6. Ravcolt on said:

    Unfortunately it seems the Ravens have placed themselves in the beggar mode – they may not be able to be chooser’s. This is never good for any position, especially offensive line.

  7. chris on said:

    They better find someone, If our backups couldnt get on the field LAST year as bad as we played…why would you think they can be a starting caliber RT. We really need a RT and I have zero confidence in any of last years backups

  8. John on said:

    Great insight, I agree that Winston wouldn’t be signed for depth he would only be signed if the coaches don’t get what they expect from Wagner.

  9. Cheri on said:

    i was hoping they would consider Winston but I thought all along with his role with the NFLPA and the drop off of his play of late would crush that dream for me which is fine. Like the corner position though boy I would feel so much better if they added a vet to come in and compete with these young guys and have them earn their job. I have always had a theory only first and second round picks and maybe 3rd round picks as well should basically be giving jobs to lose unless they really play bad anyone else drafted from the 4th round or later should have to earn it by beating out a vet.

  10. Joey 2 tones on said:

    i personally asked KO what he was going to play and he said he would rather play RT because they make more money

    srs

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