The Ravens are making sure they protect their most valuable asset — quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Even with the recent retirement of Marshal Yanda, the team has a deep and talented offensive line heading into the 2020 season.
Bradley Bozeman will also have a starting role, but that could be at left guard or at center, a position he played at Alabama. Bozeman played every offensive snap at guard last season, so he certainly has value at that position.
Skura was having one of his best seasons as a pro before suffering a season-ending knee injury Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. While his rehab has reportedly gone well, there’s uncertainty as to whether he’ll be ready for training camp. Skura might need some time to heal, but should be available at some point during the regular season.
Mekari was an undrafted rookie from California, who did an overall solid job taking the starting job when Skura went down. He’ll have an opportunity to compete for the starting job. It’s a good sign the Ravens have depth at that position.
“We have Boze, who can play center,” Harbaugh said in a recent conference call with season ticket holders. “There’s just a lot of ways we can do it. We’re going to find out about the first two or three weeks of training camp what looks the best and then let them fight it out. Let them compete. We’ll have our best five guys. I do know the two tackles, Bozeman’s going to start.”
The Ravens also have several players that will be fighting for the starting job at guard. The team added a veteran presence with D.J. Fluker, who started 27 games at right guard for Seattle over the past two seasons before being released by the team.
The Chargers originally selected Fluker in the first-round pick (11th overall) 2013 NFL Draft from Alabama. He spent four years with them before being released when the team moved from San Diego to Los Angeles. Fluker signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the New York Giants in 2017, appearing in nine games before being place on IR in November. The Ravens like his size (6-foot-5, 340 pounds), pedigree, and experience to make an impact.
General manager Eric DeCosta added competition and depth by selecting Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson in this year’s NFL draft. Both of those players have a strong, physical presence and will be able to make an impact in 2020 even if they don’t earn one of those starting spots. The Ravens are also confident Ben Powers will take the next step in his development and play an important role in 2020.
The depth bodes well for the team and the health of Jackson even thought the Ravens know they can’t immediately replace a player like Yanda, who played 13 seasons and earned eight trips to the Pro Bowl.
“I think he’s irreplaceable, bottom line,” DeCosta said about Yanda. “You can’t say that you’re going to plug in another Marshal Yanda. Probably the same thing applied to Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. To me, he’s in that category.
“Our offensive line is very important. It’s a very critical element of our team and our offense. It always has been. I think even more so now than ever – the way we’re built. We need to be great up front.”
Still, DeCosta made some solid adjustments and the offensive line is poised to have a solid year.