The Ravens have a ton of depth along the offensive line heading into the offseason. Orlando Brown Jr. had a strong rookie season and looks the part as a bookend to left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Marshal Yanda was his normal all-world self at right guard. Matt Skura had a solid campaign overall at center. They also had a couple players on the fringes that look like legitimate NFL players going forward. Where they go from here will be fascinating. There’s room for immediate upgrades as well as thought to be given for the future.
Positional Overview Series
Let’s take a look at the offensive line as it currently stands.
Orlando Brown Jr.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
Talent upgrades at LG and C
Stanley battled through injury to have a really good season. One of the better offensive tackles in football, the Ravens have the advantage of being able to exercise a 5th-year option that would lock him in through the 2020 season. It will be interesting to see when the team approaches him about an extension and how Eric DeCosta’s “financially responsible” approach factors in with that.
Age and injury were no match for Yanda in 2018. Not only is he still playing at a high level, but he looks poised to continue that for the next couple seasons. Going into a contract year, it would be wise to get him locked up for the next two to three seasons.
Brown Jr. looks like a real value after one season. Getting even a pedestrian starting right tackle in the 3rd round is a win, but grabbing one who has the upside and brings the physical presence that Brown does was real coup for the team.
Skura used his sound fundamentals to squeeze out a solid 2018 despite some peaks and valleys in his play. His athletic and size limitations cap his upside, something that doesn’t sound like a match with Eric DeCosta’s intention of “building a bully.” I’d expect the Ravens to be fishing for an upgrade, but Skura represents quality depth and a decent fall back option.
Simply put, 2018 was not Alex Lewis’ year. He started and ended the year hurt and when he wasn’t hurt, the results were mostly disappointing. The left guard spot he manned is another one ripe for a solidifying force. Lewis looks likely to be in the same boat as Skura in 2019.
Bozeman wound up being a really solid late round find for the Ravens. He’s got some athletic limitations, but he brings physicality to the center position, as well as the ability to chip in at guard. If the team is unable to find an upgrade at center this offseason, we’ll see Skura versus Bozeman for the spot in training camp, a battle in which I’d probably give the edge to Bozeman as the better fit for the team’s run-first approach.
Sixth-round pick Greg Senat spent his rookie season on IR due to a leg injury. The ultimate late-round flier, Senat has left tackle dimensions and athleticism, but will require plenty of refinement. I’m excited to see what Joe D’Alessandris can do to develop him, but counting on Senat as more than depth in 2019 would be unwise.
When the Ravens waived Nico Siragusa and opted to keep Jermaine Eluemunor, I was pretty shocked. As me and a few members of Ravens twitter carried on about our displeasure, Jermaine got happy with the block button. He channeled that anger into a pretty solid performance when thrust into action versus Pittsburgh, and looks to be rebounding a bit as a prospect. Eluemunor should return as depth piece in 2019.
Hurst should be back as guard/swing tackle depth. He’s had some good moments at guard over the last couple years, but unfortunately, we’ll only remember him getting obliterated at the hands of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram in the playoff game against San Diego. That performance was probably the loudest scream for talent upgrades at left guard and center. When the lights get the brightest and you start to face the top defensive lines in football, more is required…especially with teams increasing the reps they give their talented edge rushers inside.
There will be opportunities this offseason to take this line to the next level.
Free Agent Options
Mitch Morse – Morse is probably the jewel of the interior line free agent class. He’s mobile, strong, physical and probably has his best football in front of him. Due to the scarcity of quality lineman on the market, money will be an issue, but an acquisition like this would give the Ravens a chance to make the most impactful boost possible to their line. Pairing Morse with one of the top guard prospects in this class would give the Ravens one of the top offensive lines in football.
Matt Paradis – Same idea here: upgrade the center position in FA and grab a guard early in the draft. Paradis isn’t as physically gifted as Morse, but he’s a strong pass protector who’s sound and competitive in the run game.
Roger Saffold – Saffold has been one of the biggest reasons for Todd Gurley’s standout play over the last couple of seasons, thanks to his ability as a run blocker. There will be money concerns, but his signing would dramatically upgrade the left guard position.
Ramon Foster – Similar to Saffold, Foster would give the Ravens a nice boost, but there’s a real chance he gets overpaid because of the lack of quality lineman. He also just turned 33.
Cody Ford, Oklahoma
If a team wants to play a smash-mouth style of offense, it would be pretty difficult to find a better fit than Cody Ford. He displays an absurd level of strength mixed with an impressive base of natural athleticism and mobility.
He played right tackle at Oklahoma, and he’d be more than fine there as a pro, but he has Pro Bowl potential at guard. Ford’s value would be two-fold for the Ravens. Not only would he give them an imposing presence at left guard as they continue to try to build a powerful offensive line, but he’d give them an upgrade at swing tackle as well.
Projection: 1st round
Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
Lindstrom is a plug-and-play guard who may not be as physically gifted as Ford, but is no slouch. He plays with a good deal of power and leverage and processes things in front of him quickly. He’s also got the athleticism to fit into Greg Roman’s varied run scheme. Lindstrom would be a prime target in a 1st down trade down or maybe even outright at the 22nd pick, depending how the board falls.
Projection: Early 2nd round
Nate Davis, UNC Charlotte
Big, physical guy who plays to his strengths. Real finisher who plays nasty. Displaying more mobility than I expected, Davis should be able to pull effectively, and his experience at tackle should help him when faced with edge rushers moving inside. He’ll need to be coached up from a fundamental standpoint but has rookie starter potential. If the Ravens opt to go elsewhere early in the draft, Davis should be a prime 3rd-round target.
Projection: 3rd to 4th round