3. The Ravens could address center
The Ravens said goodbye to last year’s starting center Bradley Bozeman when he signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers.
While J.C. Tretter remains a free agent, John Harbaugh recently stated at the NFL owners’ meetings that he “highly doubt(s) that the team can find an upgrade in free agency.” He went on to say that he is comfortable with Patrick Mekari and Trystan Colon starting at center in the upcoming season.
It could be argued that Mekari’s greatest value to the Ravens is his versatility, having shown the ability to play virtually any position along the offensive line.
If the Ravens turn to the draft to find their next starting center, the consensus top center of the 2022 NFL Draft is Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum.
Most mock drafts have Linderbaum available at pick 14, but most mock drafts also have the Ravens passing on Linderbaum. Linderbaum is believed to be a plug-and-play center and therefore would start right away.
With Eric DeCosta stating that the offensive line would be a priority this offseason, would drafting a center of Linderbaum’s caliber make sense or would it be considered a reach? For what it is worth, DeCosta noted that Ravens great and former Iowa Hawkeye Marshal Yanda is comparable to Linderbaum.
Most consider there to be a major drop-off after Linderbaum, but centers such as Nebraska’s Cameron Jurgens, Arizona’s Dohnovan West, and Kentucky’s Luke Fortner show promise and could be had in the middle rounds of the draft.
Neither of the mid-round centers is considered an instant starter, but perhaps they could at least challenge for a starting role and develop into a starter in subsequent seasons just like Bozeman did several seasons ago.
The Ravens historically do not draft centers early and this draft will likely prove no different. But they have shown that eventual starting centers can be found in the later rounds.