Rounding out the roster:
So, the Ravens are stout on the front seven and have a killer secondary that they didn’t really need to worry about this off-season with studs like Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Chuck Clark, Earl Thomas III, Tavon Young, and Jimmy Smith all returning. So, let’s look to the other side of the ball, to the o-line. Again, the regular season wasn’t bad for the Ravens with regards to the offensive line. Some argue it was because the Ravens’ o-line starters were pretty good at opening holes for the run game, the play-action helped the o-line with stalled pass-rushes, and Lamar Jackson was too slippery to get caught much in the backfield, but when the passing game was needed, the linemen collapsed. How do we come to this conclusion? Again, the playoff game against the Titans.
Some say it was Mark Ingram’s calf injury that scared Greg Roman off of calling a run-heavy game, and some say it was simply falling behind too early, but for whatever the reason, the Ravens went very pass-heavy. Dropped passes were an issue (which is one reason Duvernay and Proche’s sure hands are needed in Baltimore), and Ingram going down was another issue (again, the draft strategy attacked this with a guy like J.K. Dobbins ready to roll in 2020 behind Ingram), but it seems the biggest issue may have been the line folding around Jackson. So, what does DeCosta do? He remembers the (Tennessee) Titans.
DeCosta drafts two massive, team-leading offensive linemen in rounds three and four, respectively. Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown, Jr. are both the right choices to stay at tackle, so bringing in interior linemen was the goal, and DeCosta found great value in the middle rounds again. Round three brought us, Tyre Phillips, from Mississippi State. Phillips plays both left tackle and left guard, but may even compete for the right guard spot vacated by Marshal Yanda. At 6’5” and 331-lbs., I’d love to see Phillips line up next to Brown, Jr., the only o-lineman bigger than Phillips. Phillips is a bruiser, and rarely allows penetration, preferring to push around d-linemen with a smile. He doesn’t move very well, but that’s why guard, left or right, would be good for him.
Moving on to Round four, the Ravens picked up guard Ben Bredeson from Michigan. Bredeson was one of my favorite mid-round picks in mock drafts. He was named team captain in 2018 and 2019, playing all 13 games in both seasons. Bredeson is also a student of the game and likes to evaluate the defense; a trait that might come in handy in the huddle with a still-young quarterback. He’s almost the same size as Phillips at 6’5” and 315-lbs., but a little more agile. Imagine Phillips and Bredeson, two 2020 draft picks, at guard positions with Matt Skura or Patrick Mekari at center and Stanley and Brown, Jr. rounding out the line. Bredeson, Phillips, and Ben Powers competing for the two starting guard jobs has to lead to a brutal end result, for opposing defenses.
These picks over the last three days have proven one thing: Eric DeCosta wants players that are durable, hard-working, coachable, and perhaps most of all, maulers. From the d-linemen, to the o-linemen, to the offensive weapons, these players keep getting described with the same adjectives, like “workhorse,” “hard-hitting,” and “vicious.” Do you know what that means? It means the Baltimore Ravens are looking to the past to build their future. The Baltimore Ravens are building a bully.