Will Gino Gradkowski be the Ravens Center in 2014?

Ravens-football-Gino-Gradkowski

After last season’s miracle run to their second Lombardi Trophy in team history, the Ravens knew their team would have a different look in 2013.

While some players opted for retirement and others tested their value in free agency, the argument can be made that no player was missed more than center Matt Birk.

Birk, the Ravens’ offensive “General” opted for the later and retired, leaving the Gino Gradkowski as the 2013 starting center.

As we all know, the OL struggled to protect quarterback Joe Flacco and their run blocking was atrocious at best this season. Granted, the scheme Juan Castillo instituted didn’t fit the personnel but the players – believe it or not – do shoulder some of the blame.

Heading into the offseason, Ravens coach John Harbaugh vowed on Tuesday that no member of the Ravens offensive line was safe except Marshal Yanda.

Also on Tuesday Harbaugh announced that Gradkowski was dealing with an issue involving his knee.

“Gino has a knee issue that he’s got to get cleaned up a little bit, clean out some cartilage in there,” Harbaugh said.

Gradkowski, who played every offensive snap this season, was basically baptized by fire and thrown to the wolves in 2013 and it showed. Consistently overmatched and overpowered for most of the year, Gradkowski, whether you realize it or not did improve as the season went on and recorded one his best performances in Week 17, per Pro Football Focus.

The Ravens are faced with a tough question when it comes to Gradkowski in 2014. Will they stick with Gino or opt to bring in a free agent center, perhaps Alex Mack (Browns) or Brian De La Puente (Saints) for the former Blue Hen to compete with?

While it is likely the team sticks with Gradkowski given the nature of the Ravens salary cap and other needs on the offensive line, one thing is for certain: Flacco needs to be protected.

Looking ahead one can only hope that Kelechi Osemele can rebound from his back injury, the Ravens find a way to re-sign Eugene Monroe and through the draft or free agency find a replacement for Michael Oher.

This game that is won or lost in the trenches, and the Ravens routinely lost there during this 8-8 season. I hope Ozzie and company find a way to get it done in 2014.

 

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About Brian Bower

Brian Bower
Brian Bower is avid football fan who was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Brian has covered the Baltimore Ravens and NFL player positives in the community for the past two years for FootballNewsNow.com. His work has been featured on NFL.com and ESPN blogs. He is also a regular guest...more

13 Raves on “Will Gino Gradkowski be the Ravens Center in 2014?

  1. -joe d on said:

    No question the Ravens missed Birk. It isn’t a coincidence that everyone on the line struggled without him around to make line calls. That being said I wouldn’t hesitate to bring in Alex Mack to be my starting center in 2014. Do whatever it takes to get him

    • Anonymous on said:

      I’d love to get Mack too, but given that he’s a 2-time pro bowler and under 30, plus the Ravens will likely stress extensions for Pitta, Monroe, and Daryl Smith…I don’t think it will happen. On the bright side, since Gino was considered one of the worst centers in the NFL last year, any veteran signed will be an improvement. I’d be perfectly happy if we managed to sign De la Puente.

  2. Bart on said:

    Per Pro Football Focus, Gino Gradkowski graded dead last (overall) for all centers in the NFL for 2013. Actually, his overall grade for 2013 was the third lowest for all centers over the last five years. It’s seems obvious to me that he is the weakest link on the OL. Furthermore, I imagine that all centers had some type of injury by year’s end.

    To not bring in a quality center to at least compete with this guy is, at best, poor coaching & at worst, negligent.

  3. marcus on said:

    Definitely don’t see him as the starting center next year. The pick was considered a reach back in 2012 and we saw why this year, he’s just not very good! The interior line as a whole was dreadful this year, even Yanda had an off year. If KO comes back healthy and the Ravens can sign/draft at least a decent center than it should be quality again.

  4. bob-o the clown on said:

    Castillo still shoulders MOST of the blame without a doubt. if you told peyton manning to keep handing the ball off or lateralling every play, you would say manning was a bad QB. if the system isn’t right, NO player will look good.

  5. Trevor Lee Johnson on said:

    What about moving Gradkowski to RT? I’ve read that he has good hands and good technique. He is undersized for a center, however, his athleticism might make him quick enough for RT. I hate to see a smart, coachable player ride the bench. I have heard that Oher( sorry about the spelling) is in talks for a sequel to the blindside. ” The Blindside II:Is it halftime yet? I have to poo”

  6. BrodownHodown on said:

    Ravens need to take Eric Ebron in the first and set up this two TE offense. Draft a decent RT in the 2nd round. Sign a free agent WR, I’m thinking Hakeem Nicks or a Kenny Brit… hell maybe even try to bring Q back then sign a fa center. With that and a competent OC were back holding up the Lombardi in 2015

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