With the retirement of JO finally official, the offensive line is beginning to set into shape for the 2008 season. It appears, unless the Ravens sign another free agent left tackle, that second year behemoth Jared Gaither, all of 6'9" and 350 pounds, will inherit the left tackle position, previously occupied by Ogden the last twelve years. We would be glad to get anywhere near that from Gaither!
Next to Gaither at left guard should be last year's #1 pick, Ben Grubbs. Grubbs started at right guard last season as a rookie and performed admirably for a first year player. Now he slides over into what has been his normal position, when drafted in 2007 out of Auburn University. Moving from left guard to the center position, vacant due to the release of long time veteran Mike Flynn, will be Jason Brown. Brown is better suited at center and his bigger size and meaner attitude should be a definite improvement over Flynn, who always seemed to be pushed into the backfield last season. The Ravens hopefully won't miss the veteran role and leadership that Flynn provided.
On the right side of the o-line will have Marshall Yanda at right guard. Yanda filled the role of left tackle last year and did a pretty decent job, although his natural position is guard, which is what he was originally drafted for. Filling the end of the right side of the o-line at right tackle should be Adam Terry. Terry will now be one of the veterans on the offensive line, having played both tackles over the years, although his skills are much better suited on the right side.
Even without the presence of Ogden, the Ravens may actually have a better offensive line in 2008 than they have in recent years. Despite the loss of the Pro Bowler, they now have five guys in their strongest positions and appear to have the consistency that has been missing along the entire front for quite a while. With better run blocking and pass protection, it would not surprise me to see both Willis McGahee and whomever ends up under center at QB (that's another story for another time) have a much improved year compared to 2007.
Happy Dad's Day!