The Baltimore Ravens have signed Alejandro Villanueva to be their starting right tackle. When Ian Rapoport broke the news, it was hardly a surprise. The Ravens met with several free agents before the draft. The 2021 NFL Draft class was a sure-fire signal that the Ravens needed help at offensive tackle.
Let’s take a look at this newfound help upfront. Let’s see what’s good about this move.
Alejandro Villanueva is a player that could use a fresh start. He was never a bad offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have huge question marks on the offensive line. If you think Villanueva took a step back in the 2020 season, there are a couple of things worth pointing out.
First, the Steelers were a pass-happy offense. Villanueva scored a 77.1 score as a pass blocker by Pro Football Focus. According to PFF, Villanueva had 724 snaps as a pass blocker and less than 350 as a run blocker. The Steelers didn’t run block well as a whole, and the offensive line is a joint effort task force.
We don’t know that Villanueva will struggle to adjust to the Ravens ground game. Villanueva is going from a team that struggled to run the ball to the best running team in the league. He’s moving from the left to the right and at this point of his career, that’s a needed transition. The situation Villanueva is in is completely different.
If Villanueva wasn’t a fit, the Ravens would know it better than anybody. They’ve faced the Steelers enough in the past six years to know exactly what their rival had in Villanueva. They’ve spent years trying to beat him, now he’s here to help Baltimore win.
The Ravens offense is also an unknown commodity in the 2021 season. The Ravens just drafted two receivers and signed Sammy Watkins. They hired two coaches to oversee receivers and the passing game. Do you really think the Ravens aren’t going to pass the ball a bit more moving forward?
The Ravens coaching staff has watched an awful lot of tape on this free-agent pickup. It’s hard not to trust their judgement here.
Villanueva isn’t just battle-tested, he’s battle-tested by AFC North football. Villanueva has started 90 games for the Ravens arch-nemesis, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Villanueva will be the starting right tackle for the Ravens. He’s got a wealth of experience at left tackle. If Ronnie Stanley wasn’t ready for the start of the 2021 season, Villanueva can get the Ravens by on the left side. Tyre Phillips certainly would give the Ravens much more pause if they wanted to move him over temporarily.
Villanueva is tough and dependable. He’s had five straight seasons with 16 starts. Stanley has missed a couple of games here or there and is coming off a major injury. The Ravens had to upgrade at offensive tackle after trading Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Brown Jr. may be better than Villanueva. That’s not the point. The point is that Villanueva is leaps and bounds better than Tyree Phillips. Phillips is now the right tackle understudy and a player who can develop for the future. If the Ravens didn’t sign Villanueva quickly they could have ended up whiffing on an Important position in the final waves of free agency.
The Bottom Line:
The Ravens needed to make this move. The free-agent you’re the most familiar with is a good one to go with sometimes. Villanueva is a solid player. If the Ravens were signing him to be the left tackle you could have some reservations. He’s a boost for the offensive line at right tackle.
The Ravens lined this deal up before the draft. Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh have to be comfortable with this move. The Ravens got better with this signing. The offensive line has been addressed rather respectively this offseason.