Selecting an offensive lineman will never be the most attractive pick in the NFL Draft. It doesn’t matter how well a prospect performed in college, how technically sound his game is, his footwork, strength, leadership, etc. Many will still clamor for an impact skill position player.
However, Baltimore would not be wrong in drafting the right offensive lineman in the first round, and there is a slam-dunk selection at 22. His name is Cody Ford.
And before anyone gets bent out of shape about picking another offensive lineman, particularly a guard, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman would most likely approve of this selection.
“My philosophy is winning comes first,” Roman said of what he wants to accomplish. “I’m not chasing stats. Job justification stats, water cooler talk – I’m not really into that. I’m into whatever helps the team to win. I think along with that, though, certain things — A physical style, meaning we’re in control, and it starts up front, but it extends everywhere; it’s a mindset.”
To translate, he wants to be brutal up front — beating the opponent with a road-grading offensive line and a physical rushing attack. Baltimore was second in rushing yards (2,441) with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, who had 695 yards himself. And though Jackson was able to run the ball with relative ease, the team still had holes in the interior of the offensive line with injuries and ineffective play.
Here’s how Ford fits in — he meets a need at left guard, effectively upgrading it, and he has a rapport with Orlando Brown Jr. from his days at Oklahoma.
Ford has played right tackle mostly, but at 6’4, 338 lbs., he projects mainly at guard in the NFL. That’s perfect for Baltimore, considering that Alex Lewis is ranked 67th among guards on Pro Football Focus, and James Hurst is ranked 68th among tackles. They need to get better up the middle, and Ford provides that upgrade.
His ability to pass block has been on display with two straight Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray). He will take you for a magic carpet ride if you try to get your hands inside on him. In other words, you will go flying from his ability to blow up a bull rusher. Not many people can get on the inside of him in the pass rush. How many times was Baltimore on the receiving end of getting a play obliterated by interior defensive linemen in the passing game?
Ford’s ability to run block is uncanny. He has big, strong hands, and he will use them to drive the opponent into an abyss. The best part is that he is quick enough to get inside before the defender blows up a play. He is an absolute bully in the running game — he loves contact. The most important attribute for an offensive lineman is if he finishes on a run block. He FINISHES.
If Ford were to drop down to the 22nd pick, he would not turn heads immediately. However, when he gets on the field with that fire in his eyes he wants blood and guts, and that is the type of offensive lineman you want protecting a franchise quarterback. With Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. as the young bookends, Baltimore can begin to revitalize the middle of their offensive line.
For more on Ford, watch a prospect breakdown by Ivan Evans.