Baltimore Ravens: Who will start at Center and Right Tackle?
Let’s talk about the Baltimore Ravens offensive line:
Much of the offseason focus for the Baltimore Ravens was on the offensive skill positions, and rightfully so. It is well known the Ravens struggled in that area in 2017. However, during that time, two key pieces on the offensive line were snatched away. Ryan Jensen, who was fantastic in 2017, signed a huge deal with Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, Austin Howard, who didn’t have much of a market, signed a small one-year deal with the Colts.
Baltimore would’ve loved to keep Jensen, but much like other offensive lineman in the past (Osemele, Wagner), the team felt like they couldn’t pay them. Given the Ravens success in finding offensive lineman and developing them, this isn’t that huge of a deal. However, it is still unfortunate to lost two key pieces that led to the unit’s success last year despite losing Alex Lewis and Marshal Yanda.
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Ozzie Newsome did decided to sign versatile lineman James Hurst to a four-year deal. The only thing with Hurst is that he is not very good at tackle, and he doesn’t seem like a good fit at center. Currently, the team looks set at guard with Lewis and Yanda returning from injury. I think Hurst is fine depth, but I don’t see him starting unless he manages to beat out Lewis in training camp.
Who replaces Ryan Jensen at center?
The Ravens have a good amount of options here, unlike right tackle. Matt Skura, who performed admirably filling in for Yanda, was a center in college at Duke. Skura has pretty good size at 6’4″, 313 lbs, so he will certainly compete for the spot. Another option that has been brought up on the roster is Alex Lewis. Lewis came out of college as a tackle, was successfully moved to guard, and is a fine option at center. He has very good size, and it would be a way to get Hurst and Lewis on the field.
Another option is Bradley Bozeman out of Alabama. Bozeman was a sixth round pick for the Ravens. He is a proven leader on the field and also excelled as a run blocker for Alabama. Bozeman should be a prime candidate along with Skura and Lewis in training camp.
Who replaces Austin Howard at right tackle?
As I said before, there aren’t as many options here. Hurst has been bad at tackle in his time there, and Alex Lewis is much more suited for the interior. To me, the only real option is third-rounder out of Oklahoma, Orlando Brown Jr. The rookie is mostly known for being the son of former Raven, Orlando “Zeus” Brown. Brown is an absolute mammoth at 6’8″, 345 lbs. He excels as a run blocker and will be an improving pass blocker with more training.
I really just don’t see any way Brown Jr. isn’t the right tackle week one. He is the best and most obvious choice, mostly by default. However, he does have the talent to be a dominant right tackle in this league and I trust the Ravens coaching staff to mold him into one.
Next: How do the Ravens match up with the Bengals?
The Bottom Line:
From left to right, I expect to see Stanley, Lewis, Skura, Yanda, and Brown Jr. week one. I will be interested to see the battle for left guard between Hurst, Lewis, and possibly even Skura. Overall, I see a lot of potential in this group, and they have a chance to be one of the better units in the entire league.