The Baltimore Ravens are hoping to see someone emerge from the pack in what is expected to be a highly competitive left guard competition this summer. Right now, the job is open for the taking.
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley recently highlighted the position battle as the most “compelling” on the roster this summer saying that the competition for the starting job was “wide open.”
The presumption is that the battle will be between veterans Ben Powers and Tyre Phillips, second-year guard Ben Cleveland, and perhaps even the versatile Patrick Mekari.
Hensley went as far as to say that Powers and Phillips are “looking like the front-runners heading into camp,” but don’t be surprised if someone like Cleveland or even Mekari makes a push for the Week 1 job.
Who will be the Ravens’ Week 1 starting left guard?
All three of Powers, Phillips, and Cleveland started games at left guard last season while Mekari predominantly played right tackle after Ronnie Stanley’s injury.
It’s easy to see why Powers and Phillips are the presumed early favorites. Both players have starting experience and have been with the organization for a few years.
Phillips notably opened last season as the Ravens’ starting left guard, only to suffer a knee injury in Week 1. He would be replaced by Powers who went on to start 12 games over the course of the season.
The hope, however, is that Cleveland can emerge as not only the Week 1 starter, but as the starter for the foreseeable future. A third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Cleveland was pegged as a potential day-one starter before injuries curbed his progress in training camp.
The Ravens began to rotate Cleveland in at left guard last season before he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for over a month. He would go on to start the final four games of the season, although the results were unspectacular.
The team hopes that, with a full offseason of development, Cleveland can solidify his place in the starting lineup. If all else fails, the Ravens could always lean on Mekari who has proven that he could start anywhere on the offensive line.
His versatility likely makes him a better fit as the sixth offensive lineman, but it’s nice to know the Ravens have a contingency plan.
No position battle will be more intriguing to watch at Ravens training camp this summer than the competition for the left guard job.