Pro Football Focus recently ranked the Ravens as the 23rd best offensive line in the NFL. Below is their explanation why…
The Ravens are rock solid at left tackle (Ronnie Stanley) and right guard (Marshal Yanda), but every other position is a big question mark. Left guard Alex Lewis and center John Urschel have flashed potential in the past and could push this ranking higher. The same though cannot be said for right tackle James Hurst.
Pro Football Focus does some really good work, but this is a perfect example of how at times their statistics don’t provide a true reflection of the subject they are analyzing.
They are right on some fronts because the stats they obsess upon do indicate that the Ravens are set at left tackle and right guard. Yanda is arguably the best right guard in the NFL and has been for some time and Stanley graded out as the best rookie left tackle last season. Their assessment of Hurst is also on point. Unless he’s made major strides starting him at right tackle is a serious liability. The ranking is fairly accurate and at the moment the offensive line is a below average unit. However, what you read on paper isn’t always a clear depiction of the direction of a team.
Alex Lewis isn’t much of a question mark. The only uncertainty around him is whether he will play his natural spot at left guard or whether the Ravens will shift him to right tackle. Coaches are high on him and for good reason. Before an ankle injury derailed him halfway through his rookie season he was getting better every week. Pro Football Focus doesn’t even mention Ryan Jensen, who has taken a lot of first team snaps at center.
The offensive line is the biggest X factor in whether or not the Ravens return to postseason play. Coaches haven’t been shy about the fact that they want to get back to a run-first team and Joe Flacco has shown that he’s at his best when paired with an efficient ground game. Neither can be achieved if the Ravens offensive line struggles in 2017. Ozzie Newsome has invested heavily in defense and added some weapons in Danny Woodhead and Jeremy Maclin but the offensive line remains a question mark.