2012 Players To Watch: Kelechi Osemele

Feb 25, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Iowa State Cyclones offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

When the Baltimore Ravens used their second second round draft pick on left tackle Kelechi Osemele I think he automatically became the favorite for the teams open left guard position. Before the draft tackle Jah Reid was slated to be the 2012 starter but I doubt he will beat out the versatile guard/tackle from Iowa State.

In college Osemele was a four year starter at left tackle. He was dominant at times at the tackle position and performed very well in big games. Osemele stands 6'5" and weighs 333 lbs. an ideal size for a tackle at any level but the major knock on him is that he sometimes struggles in space. This has lead some NFL draft analysts to believe he would transfer better to guard at the next level, which is perfect for the Ravens because that is exactly what they need.

Kelechi can be overpowering in the run game as once he gets that big body moving, he can not be stopped by even the most stout defensive lineman. With Baltimore having one of the few elite running backs in the game, another big mauling guard is just what the doctor ordered. I'm sure No one expects Kelechi to come right in and perform at the Pro Bowl level that Ben Grubbs has played over the past few seasons but the team feels quite confident they have found a very competent replacement in the former tackle.

If all goes as planned for Baltimore Osemele will be starting right between Bryant McKinnie and Matt Birk come week one against the rival Cincinnati Bengals. Whether that is the case or not, Osemele will be a player to keep an eye on as the season progresses. He is extremely versatile and could be plugged in at any spot on the offensive line, even center. This is an invaluable trait in a lineman that is extremely hard to come by. That is probably why the Ravens chose to draft him with their second pick even though there were still a ton of talented players left on the board.

Also, if Bryant McKinnie were to get hurt it is my guess that Osemele would get the first shot at replacing him. In doing that the Ravens could minimize the movement of other players on the line and continue the continuity they have built between the players.

Having a player that can help your team in so many ways is any coaches dream. It may take some time but Kelechi Osemele could turn out to be the best value pick in the entire draft. Of course there are a lot of "what ifs" in these scenarios but this is the NFL and things rarely go as planned. Drafting a player with the versatility of Osemele can cover a lot of holes even if they have not presented themselves yet.

So, keep an eye on Osemele this year. If there are some key injuries on the offensive line he could be the one to save the day... And the season.

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