clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ravens Post-Draft Needs

ESPN Insider put out a series of stories in conjunction with Football Outsiders on the post-draft needs of the entire league's 32 teams. They break it down by division and of course by each team's projected needs going into last month's draft. The Baltimore Ravens were looked at in the AFC North, and thanks to the guys over at SB Nation, we are able to bring it to you.

Unfortunately, ESPN Insider is a pay service, so if you want to see the entire series on every NFL team, you'll going to have to ante up the subscription price. In the meantime, here's what they say about the Ravens remaining needs after the draft ended:

Baltimore Ravens: Offensive line

You'd think the Ravens would have learned their lesson. Just prior to last season, the potential absence of center Matt Birk and left guard Ben Grubbs meant that most of the offensive line consisted of players without positions. Michael Oher was a left tackle, a right tackle, or a right guard. Marshal Yanda was being considered at both tackle and guard on the right side. Andre Gurode could replace either Birk or Grubbs, but not both. And then, miraculously, everything fell into place with the resurrection of Bryant McKinnie's career.

Yet here we are entering 2012, and it's deja vu all over again.

(Read more on what ESPN Insider said about the Ravens draft after the 'Jump')

This time, Grubbs is gone for good, having left for New Orleans in free agency, Birk has chosen to forego retirement but is still on the wrong side of 35 years old, McKinnie finds himself being monitored by literal "weight watchers," and Gurode hasn't been re-signed. Naturally, Baltimore's addressed this situation by moving backup tackle Jah Reid to guard, drafting Iowa State tackle Kelechi Osemele, who the Ravens envision as a guard prospect, and selecting Delaware guard Gino Gradkowski to one day replace Birk at center. Follow all that? Yeah, me neither.

Versatility is oftentimes a virtue when it comes to NFL offensive linemen. However, there's a fine line between overemphasis on versatility and having a line that embodies the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none." There's something to be said for Baltimore's straightforward situation last year, wherein everyone was playing his "natural" position, Reid came in if a tackle got hurt and Gurode entered if a guard or center was injured. Indeed, according to our offensive line metrics, the 2011 Ravens were slightly better in run-blocking and significantly better in pass-protecting than they were in 2010, when Oher was out of position at left tackle and Yanda was out of position at right tackle.

At least as it stands right now, the Ravens are one mishap away from finding themselves having to essentially rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. McKinnie, for instance, appears to be a shell of his former self and has that aforementioned, ever-present weight issue. So what happens if he needs to be replaced during the season? Sorry, the Oher-at-left-tackle ship has sailed. What happens if Birk's age catches up to him or Reid can't cut it at left guard? An out-of-position rookie in the starting lineup, that's what.

In terms of the best available free agents, there's former Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeill, whose health status is in question, and former Steelers left tackle Max Starks, whom Baltimore should be pretty familiar with. Among interior linemen, the Ravens have reportedly shown interest in former Titans right guard Jake Scott.