Throughout free agency, the Ravens have addressed many needs (at least temporarily) on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, the Ravens don’t have many areas of need, but one of the most important positions on the offensive side of the ball is still unaddressed.
While meeting with the media during their pre-draft press conference, Ravens executives addressed multiple questions as to the future of the most important offensive line position.
“If we had to line up today with the group that we have, I think John [Harbaugh] told [owner] Steve Bisciotti that K.O. [Kelchi Osemele] would probably get that opportunity,” said general manager Ozzie Newsome when asked if Osemele was someone who factored into the left tackle debate.
Thoughts of using Osemele at left tackle haven’t necessarily been a foreign concept, but during his rookie season, he was used in other positions along the offensive line. The second-round pick played left tackle collegiately at Iowa State but started at right tackle and left guard last season for the Ravens.
Osemele handled his own in college, but in the NFL, his mobility may not be on par with what it takes to stop some of best pass rushers the NFL has to offer.
For Newsome to publicly say that someone else besides Michael Oher would be the current left tackle was a bit surprising. Oher had filled that role when Bryant McKinnie was either benched or injured. Throughout his career, Oher has struggled while anchoring the left side of the line and has often looked uncomfortable.
Keeping Oher away from the left side of the line will bode well for the Ravens and negotiations if they decide to extend Oher after this season. There is a big difference in income for someone who protects the QB’s strong side versus his “Blind Side,” and the Ravens won’t cave to any ploy from Oher’s agent to pay him anything but fair value for a right tackle.
The speculation between Oher and Osemele starting at left tackle could be a moot point within two weeks. The Ravens are expected to address the position in the draft and depending on who is picked, McKinnie could be retained for a more immediate plug-and-play option.
Currently, McKinnie remains a free agent after being put into the starting lineup primarily for the playoffs, when he played very well.
“I’ve had conversations with his agent prior to today,” Newsome said, speaking on the chances of McKinnie’s return. Newsome also stated that both head coach John Harbaugh and run game coordinator Juan Castillo have been in communication with McKinnie.
“Could we open up our first game this year – wherever that is, whenever it is – could he be our left tackle? He potentially could be,” said Newsome. “The dialogue has been very good with ‘B-Mac’ from my standpoint, and I think John would echo the same thing.”
This won’t be the last you hear about the left tackle position, but it’s simply speculation at this point. Most concrete answers will be given following the draft, when the Ravens will likely have to make a play to bring back McKinnie – at least for the short-term.