If Ray Rice doesn’t have a new long term deal by March 5th, Ben Grubbs is gone. That is just a straight fact. I know a lot of fans are holding on to the notion that Grubbs could be re-signed long term but there is just no way that is happening. If the Ravens could franchise him this year, which would give them an opportunity resign him next year once the cap increases in size. Rice is obviously the priority with the franchise tag though, so if he doesn’t have a new deal by march 5th, Ben Grubbs isn’t wearing purple next year (unless its with the Vikings). With that out of the way, lets discuss how the Ravens can replace him without breaking the bank.
One option is to draft a guard. To get the type of production that they got from Ben Grubbs they would need to use either their first or second round pick on this player. One option (and a player I absolutely love) is Cordy Glenn from Georgia. Glenn is a first rounder and he is a 3-year starter in college. He has tremendous size and ability and could actually play every position on the OL if he needed to, Glenn would step in immediately and play at a near pro bowl level. Another less realistic option is David Decastro, I have him as my 12 rated prospect overall and my top interior lineman, if he fell down to 29th he would be a slam dunk pick and I believe he would be the best OG in the league in less than 3 years, however, I cant imagine him falling past Pittsburgh at the absolute lowest. William Vlachos is another guy to keep an eye on, he is a 2-year starter from Alabama and his stock has been hurt because of an injury suffered last year that kept him out of the lineup for a 7 weeks. The Ravens could almost certainly snag him in the second round and get good production from him. The thing that excites me about him is that he can also play center (very well actually) and could be a long-term fix at Center while being a short-term fix at Guard.
Another option is finding a player in free agency. The Ravens have a long history of replacing draft picks that were to expensive to keep with Veterans that are cheap until they can draft another player to be a long term solution. The same thing could happen here. Bobbie Williams is a guy I talked about in a post about 2 months ago, he broke his ankle in December but he reportedly will be fine to start the season this year, the injury is a red flag but it should also make him even cheaper than he was going to be anyway, I think he could be had for about 1 million per season on a 2 year deal. Geoff Hangartner of the Panthers is another option; he can also play C (what he used to play in Buffalo) so the versatility is a plus. He could be a fairly cheap option thanks to his age (he is 31 and will be 32 by the start of next season).
All those options are fine, but the most interesting idea, to me, is moving Michael Oher to LG and plugging Jah Reid in at RT.
I know it sounds a bit crazy but here me out for a second.
First off, let me say that I don’t think Reid is better at RT than Oher is. That isn’t why I would make this move. The Ravens have one of the most Versatile lineman in the NFL at their disposal in Michael Oher. We already know he can play solid football at LT and is a stud at RT. When I look at Michael Oher and I try and pretend I don’t know what position he plays, I see an elite level left guard. His quickness is incredible off the snap (which is why he gets called for so many false starts), he uses his hands extremely well, he is very strong and powerful and he has stellar push off the line. Those are all traits of Pro bowl caliber guards. When I look at his size (6′-4″ 315lbs) I see a guard. Honestly, I think his footwork (which is great) might be the only reason he plays tackle to begin with. Oher is a good tackle, but he is a prototype guard.
The other half of this equation is using Reid at Right Tackle. This might sound risky but it really isn’t. The Ravens were fully prepared to start Reid at RT for the long haul last season before Bryant McKinney basically fell into their laps and they signed him for pennies on the dollar. Now, a full season, some play time, and a full year of OTAs and training camp under his belt, I think Reid is fully prepared to step into the lineup and play well. The Ravens front office thought highly enough of Reid to trade up five spots to get him, losing a 6th round pick in the process. in training camp last year he took full starters reps and I never heard a negative word about him from the coaches, players or media outlet representatives that saw him play. by all accounts he was a very natural and Fluid player, just a little raw. If the Ravens cant get a suitable replacement for Grubbs locked down, I would rather see them use a decent RT and an excellent G (Reid and Oher) than see them use a good RT (Oher) and no LG that has starting ability.
Is this the solution? I have no idea. I don’t know how the Ravens coaching staff will see things; I don’t know how the draft is going to go (anyone who says they know for sure is either full of themselves or they have no clue what they are talking about). Either way I would love to see the coaching staff try it for a week or two in the preseason just to see how it goes. Tell me what you guys think, id love to hear any of your comments, ideas or concerns.