Mekari got a slow start with the Ravens because he was sidelined by a back injury earlier this summer, but his smarts (legal studies major) and versatility caught coaches’ attention.
He got a shot at reps with the first-team offense midway through training camp, and in the preseason finale, he started at center, bounced to left tackle, right guard and back to center.
“I just wanted to show that I’m versatile,” Mekari said after the preseason finale. “By playing those positions, I hope I showed them that if they need me, I’m more than happy to play wherever.”
The Ravens have a rich history of developing undrafted inside linebackers. Two of them – Patrick Onwuasor and Chris Board – will be the team’s starters this season. Alaka could be next.
Asked last week about his comfort level with just having three inside linebackers, Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale brought up Alaka, who played well enough this summer to warrant four.
Baltimore Ravens roster superlatives: Tallest, lightest, most accomplished players and more - Aaron Kasinitz
Lightest: WR Marquise Brown (170 pounds)
Take one look at the Ravens on the practice field, and it’s no surprise that Brown is the lightest player on the roster, followed by 5-foot-11 Anthony Averett (178 pounds) and kicker Justin Tucker (183 pounds).
Youngest: RB Justice Hill (21 years)
Hill, who will turn 22 in November, left Oklahoma State after just three seasons and landed with the Ravens as a fourth-round pick. During his college career, Hill piled up 632 carries, but he saved himself from added wear and tear by declaring for the draft after his junior season.
11. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Rookie fourth-rounder Ben Powers looks set to start at left guard for the Ravens, and that’s probably not a bad thing after seeing him this preseason. He didn’t allow a single pressure on 107 pass-blocking snaps although we would like to see him clean up his four penalties.
Next Gen stat: The Ravens had 126 rushes last season in which the ball carrier reached a max speed of at least 15 mph, which ranked No. 1 in the NFL. Lamar Jackson’s 61 rushes with a top seed of 15 mph also ranked No. 1.
Analysis: The Ravens placed an emphasis on upgrading their speed even more in the draft. Baltimore used two of its first three picks on wide receivers Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin, both of whom ranked in the top 20 in fastest 40 times at the NFL combine. Then, the Ravens selected Justice Hill, who posted the best 40 time among running backs at the combine, in the fourth round. John Harbaugh reinforced this theme recently by wearing a T-shirt that reads: “Speed kills, speed thrills.”