Ravens mass exodus of OL could thrust unproven draft pick into spotlight

Baltimore is placing a lot of trust in their draft

Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers
Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers / Robin Alam/ISI Photos/GettyImages

The Baltimore Ravens lost three-fifths of their starting offensive line from last year in a matter of days. After the New York Jets acquired John Simpson and Morgan Moses via free agency and a trade, respectively, Pro Bowl guard Kevin Zeitler also left the Ravens by signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions.

The Ravens could make some internal promotions, as former third-rounder Ben Cleveland seems ready for a starting role, but will Eric DeCosta really use backups for an offense that just signed Derrick Henry as they push for a championship? If the answer is yes, a seventh-round pick could end up starting at left guard.

The Ravens took USC guard Andrew Vorhees, who many projected to be a Top-75 pick, in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft after tearing his ACL at the NFL Combine. Losing Simpson and Zeitler, and making no new additions in free agency, would slot him in as a possible starter.

In a year many consider to be a championship or bust year for the Ravens, starting Vorhees could either have DeCosta coming out of this mess with egg on his face for putting too much trust in a late draft pick or set the stage for Vorhees emerging as one of the best late-round picks DeCosta ever made.

Will Andrew Vorhees become a starter for the Baltimore Ravens?

Vorhees was a five-year starter for the Trojans, excelling primarily as a run blocker. With strong hands, a powerful lower base, and the ability to handle complex stunts with ease, Vorhees would have been picked somewhere on Day 2 had he not been injured.

An ACL injury is always a difficult hurdle to overcome for a young player, but offensive linemen messing up their knees face an extra hurdle they need to leap over. However, if the Ravens get a clean bill of health back, they could operate under the assumption that Vorhees is a prized Day 2 player, not a late-round dart throw.

With the Ravens likely to keep Patrick Mekari as a valuable backup, the current starting line includes Vorhees and Cleveland at guard, Tyler Linderbaum at center, and Ronnie Stanley and Daniel Faalele at the tackle spots. The new additions in Vorhees, Cleveland, and Faalele have a combined eight starts between them, seven of which come from Cleveland.

Going from what was essentially a redshirt year to starting left guard on one of the best teams in the league with Henry and MVP Lamar Jackson behind you is a gigantic undertaking. However, if the Ravens believe Vorhees is that elite prospect he was in college, he could thrive in his new role.