It was all but expected at this point, but the Baltimore Ravens preseason finale made it official. The team had a competition for the starting left guard, but the battle is over with John Simpson winning and in line to start week one.
John Simpson will start for the Baltimore Ravens week one
After the NFL draft, the thought was that former third-round pick Ben Cleveland had a great chance to win this job. However, in the offseason programs it was clear that this was not going to happen. Both Sala Aumavae-Laulu and John Simpson were ahead of him at OTAs, and that continued into training camp.
Sala Aumavae-Laulu was the first one to get work in training camp, but after the first week of camp, he gave up first-team repetitions and did not get them back.
Simpon started in the first two preseason games and was much better than Sala Aumavae-Laulu. Sala Aumavae-Laulu would play against the backups, while Simpson would play against the starters, and yet Simpson looked much more competent.
According to PFF, Sala Aumavae-Laulu had a 27 offensive grade after two games while Simpson had an 82.7 grade. Those grades are subjective, but the tape clearly showed the same.
The Ravens did not announce that Simpson won the job, but the third preseason game was all that we needed to see. Simpson did not play the game at all. He joined the starting four around him and Patrick Mekari as the locks who did not need to play in this game.
Sala Aumavae-Laulu played every snap at left guard, because he played so poorly that he needed all of the work that he could get. It worked for both because Sala Aumavae-Laulu needed the work and Simpson needed to stay healthy.
It was arguably only a competition for a week or so. Still, for as much as Sala Aumavae-Laulu lost the job, Simpson won the job, which is a fair reason why the competition was called so quickly.