The Ravens strengthened the offensive line with the addition of guard Kevin Zeitler.
The move did not send shockwaves through an impatient fanbase, but it was a solid signing that could provide huge dividends next season.
The addition of Zeitler provides quarterback Lamar Jackson with another steady, veteran presence. There’s no question that Zeitler will help stabilize a line that broke down in pass coverage last season.
“I’ve known Kevin since the [2012 NFL] Combine. And I played against him when he was in Cincinnati a couple of times, and I played against him with his last team [New York Giants],” defensive tackle Derek Wolfe said. “So, to me, he’s one of the best pickups we could possibly get. That guy is one of the best offensive guards I’ve ever played against.
“He’s strong; he’s always available; he’s smart. He’s a smart football player. He’s tough to beat. He’s just a tough player. So, I’m looking forward to going against him and taking my game to another level.”
Zeitler is looking forward to getting acclimated to a system that suits his skill set.
Zeitler is a nine-year NFL veteran and brings experience to the Ravens offensive line. He has played in 135 games, including 134 starts for the Cincinnati Bengals (2012-17), Cleveland Browns (2017-18) and the New York Giants (2019-20).
Zeitler is also durable and has missed only nine games throughout his nine-year NFL career, competing in more than 90 percent of his team’s offensive snaps in seven of nine seasons. He has started all 16 games in six of his NFL campaigns, including five of the past six seasons.
“Every O-lineman you ask, ‘Hey, what do you want to do?’ They all want to be run blocking because that usually means you have the lead, or you’re controlling the game or dominating upfront,” Zeitler said. “The Ravens have established that that’s what they’re going to do, and I have a hard time believing they’re going to change that up now.”
There continue to be rumblings the Ravens are determined to move Bradley Bozeman to center, a position that he played at Alabama. That move would make sense considering the current market.
Former Packers center Corey Linsley agreed to a five-year, $62.5 million deal with the Chargers. That contract makes Linsley the highest-paid center in the NFL.
If the Ravens do move Bozeman to center, that would create a void at left guard. However, Ben Powers, an Oklahoma product, showed steady improvement last season and could be ready to take over the starting role. Ben Bredeson, was selected by the Ravens in the fourth round (143rd overall) of the 2020 draft, also has the potential to make a bigger impact in year two.
“We have some guys that can play,” General manager Eric DeCosta said. “A lot of guys have played for us – a lot of young players are emerging talents. We’ll also have a chance, I think, with the Draft and free agency to augment those positions as well. So, Bradley is an important part of the mix.
“We have some other guys that can play that position as well. We’ll find the best five guys and the best backups behind them, and we’ll start up in September.”
DeCosta will also grab an offensive lineman or two in this year’s draft. One player already being linked to the Ravens is yet another Crimson Tide player, Landon Dickerson. Just like Bozeman, Dickerson has the size — 6-foot-6, 326 pounds — to create matchup problems and has the versatility to play both guard and center.
While it might be exciting, the Ravens are taking an effective approach to boost the offense by upgrading the line.