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Mekari Puts Versatility To Use

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In an age of specialists dotting the modern sports landscape, Patrick Mekari stands as a bit of a Renaissance man.

No, it’s not painting, music and writing endeavors that fill his proverbial dance card. Mekari is the rare offensive lineman who can seemingly be plugged into any situation up front and perform on a moment’s notice.

Center? Check.

Guard? Check.

Tackle? Playing right tackle currently, and doing it well.

Sure, Mekari has been maligned some for his play in the past — his scattershot snaps from center in the Divisional Round against Buffalo last season created a firestorm of rancor from Ravens fans, and deservedly so. He has also been pushed around a bit against top-shelf talent in years gone by, and he has somewhat earned the dubious unofficial tag of “Jack of all trades. Master of none.”

Look, the breakdown of offensive line play has never been better than it is today. Former Russell Street Report and current “Two Guys Watching Football” analyst Cole Jackson does a spectacular job focusing on Ravens linemen. National guys like Brandon Thorn and Duke Mayweather help the average fan understand more of the techniques and nuances of the position than has previously been unavailable.

Because of pundits like this, we’ve learned how hard it is for a player to simply move from one side of the line to the other. It’s compared to a right-hander having to do things left-handed, and the pundits explain the inherent difficulties in regards to angles, balance and setting one’s feet when breaking down why so many linemen struggle with making the move.

Enter Mekari.

With all-world left tackle Ronnie Stanley still fighting through last season’s catastrophic ankle injury, free-agent addition Alejandro Villanueva had to abandon his experiment at right tackle to man Stanley’s spot. An injury to Tyre Phillips, another possibility to fill that right tackle slot, meant that it would fall on the Swiss Army Knife, Mekari.

And he has performed.

Photo Credit: Baltimore Ravens

It certainly takes a high level of raw intelligence to be able to both understand and put into practice the responsibilities of playing so many positions, and the Cal product has that in spades. One must also perform well in the meeting room and practice field for the coaching staff to even trust him enough to move him up and down the line.

Mekari has long been noted for his ability to set his feet and establish a good base in pass protection. In 2019, PFF College gave Mekari a pass-blocking efficiency grade of 99.1, good for third in the nation that year. That comes in handy when playing tackle, particularly in a game like Monday night’s classic against the Colts when the Ravens were sending out a bunch of receivers in their comeback attempt, and Mekari needed to hold up on the edge to provide Jackson time to go through his progressions, and the receivers the ability to work themselves open.

We heard a lot this week about the exploits of Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown and Calais Campbell, and deservedly so. They were each spectacular and key to the Ravens win.
But we didn’t hear a lot about Mekari.

And for an offensive lineman, that silence is golden.

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