Over the last few seasons, former undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari has been the glue of the Ravens’ offensive line. With the unfortunate injury to Ja’Wuan James, Mekari has been boosted to the limelight once again and I would not be surprised if he impresses.
The Ravens entered the season with a banged-up franchise left tackle in Ronnie Stanley. The former first-round pick out of Notre Dame has been rehabbing his ankle since Week 1 of last season when he re-injured that same injury from the previous season.
Since signing his five-year, $98.75 million extension in 2019, it’s been a rocky road for Stanley, but it has led to the Ravens accumulating a vast amount of depth.
This past offseason, the Ravens drafted Daniel Faalele who has been struggling with injury as well as an adjustment period. Last season, the Ravens added James as a free agent who is also now injured and out for the season. Add in Stanley still being out and that’s three key pieces injured.
At right tackle is offseason addition Morgan Moses, thought of as an underrated performer with the New York Jets and Washington Commanders. Moses had a good start to the season and is looking like a vital piece for the 2022 offense. On the left side though, there is a hole to fill until Stanley is ready to return.
Enter Patrick Mekari.
Why Patrick Mekari is so valuable to the Ravens
Now in his fourth season, Mekari just recently signed a three-year, $15.4 million extension. Mekari has been a man of many roles since entering the NFL. His versatility is his greatest trait and he has made an impact at a number of different positions on the offensive line over the years.
A 2020 article from NBC Sports detailed Mekari’s rise and even quoted his former high school coach, Jim Benkert. Benkert told the story of Mekari’s recruitment.
Entering his senior year, Mekari stood at 6-foot-2 and played at around 260 pounds. Originally committed to Utah State, Mekari was a center in high school and with his frame would remain an interior lineman in college.
Throughout his senior year, though, Mekari grew and put on weight. That’s when the University of California-Berkley came calling after an offensive lineman of theirs went down.
What was expected to be a new interior offensive lineman (whose brother was a member of the defensive line), ended up being a tackle, playing the most pivotal role on the offensive line for years to come.
Ahead of the draft, Mekari was not a well-known name, and the fact that he was slightly undersized as a tackle lessened his value. This led him to go undrafted and sign with the Ravens as a do-it-all player.
As a rookie in 2019, Mekari was thrust into a role replacing starting center Matt Skura after his injury in Week 11. Mekari started five games and played in 11.
After playing just a handful of games on offense and limited special teams snaps, he played 79% of offensive snaps in Week 11 and did not miss an offensive snap moving forward, seizing the starting center role. He was also the man in the middle in the team’s playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans.
2020 is when we saw how vital Mekari was to the offensive line’s depth. Mekari lost the starting role and was primarily a special teams body until Week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Recently-released guard/tackle Tyre Phillips was the starting right guard at the time and got injured. Mekari would go on to play at that position through Week 9.
In Week 10, Mekari started at right guard, but when starting right tackle D.J. Fluker began to struggle he moved over to right tackle. And when Skura’s snaps got consistently worse, Mekari shifted over there. In one game in 2020, Mekari played in three positions along the offensive line with high effectiveness.
Playing in nearly two-thirds of offensive snaps in his sophomore NFL year, Mekari only had two penalties. He had some rough snaps, which is why he was not on the field more. But overall, Mekari’s season was very productive and set him up for a larger role if he could make the team the following year.
In 2021, Mekari was predominately the team’s right tackle after injuries pushed him outside. He started 12 games and played offensive snaps in 13. He only had three penalties all season and was a solid bookend. According to PFF, Mekari was above average as both a pass and run blocker.
After signing his contract in December 2021, Mekari seems to be laser-focused on this season stating, “I am still undrafted.” That type of motivation is one that should help earn him a third contract with the Ravens after this deal expires.
His current contract is very team-friendly if he can play quality football at left tackle, the most expensive position along the offensive line. In a long season, Mekari is bound to see time at other positions as injuries arise, and his durability and versatility will be on full display. His value is unmatched.
The Ravens already got a glimpse of Patrick Mekari’s value and versatility this season
This was seen in the Week 2 loss to the Miami Dolphins. In Week 1, the Ravens started Ja’Wuan James at left tackle. James started his first game at left tackle after spending last season on the injured reserve.
Despite the loss, Mekari played every offensive snap and performed at a high level, not allowing any sacks or penalties. With Stanley’s status for Week 3 uncertain, Mekari is in line to start again at left tackle. This would be his second pro start there and 27th game started dating back to his college days.
Expect Mekari to have a huge role moving forward. No matter where he plays, his experience at all five offensive line positions makes him a valuable player.
Even with a completely healthy offensive line, you will see Mekari on the field as a sixth offensive lineman. His value is extremely high to the Ravens and he will make an impact.
The fact of the matter is that Mekari has started games for the Ravens now at four positions — left tackle, center, right guard, and right tackle. Ben Powers has played well at left guard, so for now, Mekari may be stuck at four positions.
But over the next three years, look for Mekari to continuously show off his versatility and be a valuable piece to help keep the offensive line together through injuries. The Ravens, notorious for injury-riddled seasons in recent years, understand and value this.
Patrick Mekari is not going anywhere and his Ravens legacy has only just begun. Even after a bad Week 2, with Mekari on the team, there is one less thing to worry about as this team rebounds.