Ravens NFL Draft tradition: Finding offensive linemen gems
Marshal Yanda retired and there has been a lot of talk about how it will impact the offseason priorities for the Ravens. The Ravens abilities to find gems for the offense, deep into the draft is something to consider.
The Baltimore Ravens don’t necessarily need to replace Marshal Yanda with a first round pick or a big splash in free agency. Yanda was a third round pick and he’s just one of the examples of the Ravens finding starters after the first two rounds in the draft. Since Eric DeCosta has been around basically the entire time, the entire draft history of the purple and black is relevant. This is certainly one lesson Ozzie Newsome could have given him. Let’s take a look at what I’m talking about here.
Bradley Bozeman (sixth round 2018)
Bradley Bozeman was a late day three pick who ended up becoming a starter. Bozeman was a center at Alabama and he ended up at left guard in Baltimore. Bozeman only started one game in his rookie season. In year two, he started all 16 games and performed at a high level. There were some inconsistencies early in the season yet he was exactly what the Ravens needed with their offensive system.
The Ravens have to hope that Ben Powers can have similar success. Powers was a fourth round pick from Oklahoma, who was inactive most of the season and only started one game. If Powers can follow Bozeman’s lead, the Ravens could have two young guards holding down the fort on the offensive line.
Matt Skura (Undrafted free agent, 2016)
In three years for the Ravens Skura has started 39 games. That’s what you call getting value out of an undrafted free agent. Skura has played fairly well and if he’s ready to go he will be the starting center when the Ravens kick off next season. Skura is the perfect center for the Ravens because he has the athleticism to reach his blocks in the run game and he’s very solid in pass protection
Patrick Mekari (Undrafted free agent 2019)
The most impressive thing about Patrick Mekari is that he filled in for Skura against the Los Angeles Rams and the offensive line didn’t miss a beat. When Skura went down you would have thought that it would have been a major chance for Aaron Donald to change the game. He didn’t. The Ravens kept on rolling.
Mekari had some trouble with his snaps in the game against the Buffalo Bills. It was the one concerning thing you saw from Mekari as the Ravens closed out the season. With Skura and Mekari, you see exactly what the team is looking for with interior offensive linemen. They want an athlete, not just a mean bruiser that weighs over 300 pounds. Knowing exactly what traits translate into their offense is a huge advantage for the Ravens. Mekari and Skura looked the part and they gave them a chance as undrafted free agents.