The Ravens are, from top to bottom, perhaps the most complete roster in the NFL. That doesn’t mean that they are without needs, or that they lack the ability to upgrade. In this segment I will be taking a position by position look at where the Ravens could use an upgrade or where they my have holes opening up in the near future. Today I will be focusing on interior offensive lineman, specifically Left Guard.
The Ravens currently have Ben Grubbs playing LG. Grubbs is a near the best at his position and has been a Probowl alternate two years in a row. However he is due to become a free agent in March and with the Ravens cap situation, it is unlikely they will be able to bring him back. There are some options at the position that the Ravens can pursue realistically. Draft Prospects are in bold.
1. Ben Grubbs, OG, Baltimore Ravens-
there is an outside chance that the Ravens can bring Grubbs back into the fold, but a few things need to go right. First the rest of the NFL needs to undervalue him, I do believe Grubbs would take less money to stay with the Ravens but he wont take a huge pay cut, just a small one. Grubbs is easily the most preferred choice for the Ravens.
2. David DeCastro, OG, Stanford- DeCastro is hands down the best interior lineman in the draft. His footwork is great, he gets off the line as fast as any player in the draft and is much better with his hands than most draft prospects are coming into the NFL. DeCastro would be an upgrade from Grubbs if he pans out and would come at a much lower price tag, but like ay draft prospect, a team cant get him if someone else gets there first, DeCastro would be a steal for the Ravens late in the first round.
3. Bobby Williams, OG, Cincinatti Bengals- Williams has been a serviceable Guard in the AFC North for 7 years. He is extremely underrated and could come pretty cheap in free agency. He has a good chance of walking from the Bengals because they have been stocking up on lineman in the draft for a few years now. The downside here is age, Williams, at age 35, is an 11 year Veteran. He would fit the Ravens pattern of using a veteran player as a 1-2 year stopgap before drafting a permanent replacement.
4. Cordy Glenn, OG/T, University of Georgia- Glenn is a player that will remind Ravens fans of Marshall Yanda. He is extremely versatile and could play LG, RG, C, or RT at an NFL level. His footwork is impressive but he could use some work getting off the snap faster and he is a much better pass protector than a run blocker. In a year or two Glenn could be a premier NFL LG. Glenn is a very realistic option and will likely be available if the Ravens want to take him in the first round.
5. Lucas Nix, OG, University of Pittsburgh- Nix is a second round grade player in the draft, he has played RT for the past three years at Pitt but doest have much chance to play T in the NFL. His hip movement and Footwork leave a lot to be desired and he doesn’t have the speed to play on the edge in the NFL, however, his is extremely strong at the point of attack and would excel playing G where is strength is more important than his speed. For my money Nix is the 3rd best G in this draft.
6. Kevin Zeitler, OG, University of Wisconsin- Zeitler is one of the key cogs in Wisconsin’s dominant running game, he is an excellent fit for the Ravens new zone blocking run scheme, he is extremely athletic for his size(though he lacks the Elite strength of Nix) and has no trouble engaging blockers on the line and disengaging to pick up extra blitzers or lineman that twist inside, he excels getting off his first level block to make extra blocks downfield. His pass protection is suspect at times and he struggles against bull rushes but he has bulked up each year in college and there is no reason he can’t add 20 or so more lbs to his frame(currently 6’4” 318lbs) to adjust to the NFL level. The extra weight would serve him well since he lacks overwhelming upper body strength. Zeitler should be available in the second round and could slide to the third if he has a poor combine.