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2016 NFL Draft: Tunsil could very well end up being a left guard if selected by Ravens

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens could find itself drafting left tackle Laremy Tunsil with the sixth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft as he is considered by many to be the best player in the entire draft. But if the Ravens select Tunsil, don't get your hopes up expecting him to start at left tackle immediately. There's a chance he could end up starting at left guard for the Ravens in 2016 and for a couple of more years.

The left tackle starting position is Eugene Monroe's to lose at this point. The Ravens gave Monroe a five year deal worth 37.5 million during the 2014 offseason and the Ravens haven't seen consistent production from him since due to health reasons. Monroe is still a very talented left tackle when healthy. He's the veteran and the Ravens haven't decided to aggressively trade him away either despite rumors of such as early as the end of the 2015 regular season. If Monroe does a good job at left tackle over the next couple of seasons for the Ravens while Tunsil is on the roster, Tunsil will could be sitting at left guard.

Not only is the left tackle starting position Monroe's to lose, but the right tackle position is also Ricky Wagner's to lose. Wagner was a 2013 fifth round draft pick  by the Ravens and didn't get his first full-time starting opportunity until the 2014 season. Wagner played great in 2014 as he was rated the best right tackle that year by Pro Football Focus. In 2015, Wagner didn't have as good of a season as he did in 2014, but he was still solid. If the Ravens really like Wagner at right tackle going forward, that again leaves Tunsil to fill the left guard position with the departure of Kelechi Osemele.

At the other positions on the offensive line for the Ravens, we obviously know that Marshal Yanda will stay at right guard regardless and we know Jeremy Zuttah will be the starting center barring any surprising developments.

Now, if you are Tunsil, starting out as a left guard when you are a left tackle isn't a bad thing. Ravens Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden started out at left guard as a rookie in 1996. I'm not comparing Tunsil to Ogden, but just describing how one of the best left tackles in NFL history started out his career. But having said that, is it really worth it for the Ravens to draft a player who would essentially be a left guard for the team with the number six overall pick?

That is the biggest question the Ravens have to ask itself as an organization if Tunsil is indeed the pick. The Ravens are not the same team it was in 1996 and there are other glaring needs on its roster especially on defense.

There was a lot of speculation that the Ravens would move Monroe via trade at the start of the 2016 offseason and that hasn't happened yet. It looks like the Ravens are satisfied with Monroe which means his starting job is safe at the moment.

Since the 1997 NFL Draft, only five players who were listed as a guard were selected in the top 10 of the NFL draft and they are:

  • Chris Naole (1997)
  • Kyle Turley (1998)
  • Leonard Davis (2001)
  • Chance Warmack (2013)
  • Jonathon Cooper (2013)
Recent NFL history suggests that drafting a guard in the top 10 is not a high priority. This is the biggest argument against drafting Tunsil because he would not be locked in automatically over Monroe for the starting job at left tackle. Some say that if Tunsil falls to the Ravens, the Ravens can't pass him up. Well, if the Ravens haven't moved Monroe, why can't the organization pass up on Tunsil?

The Ravens need depth at left tackle and a player who would beat out James Hurst for the backup role as Hurst has struggled over the past two seasons. Depth along the offensive line in general is important and can be addressed in the middle rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft. But in the top 10 of the draft? I don't know about that.