The Ravens’ plan at offensive sort out didn’t work in 2021.
Ronnie Stanley’s ankle didn’t heal sufficiently. Alejandro Villanueva couldn’t ship reliably above-average efficiency at age 33. They didn’t have a younger starter ready within the wings, although utility man Patrick Mekari did his finest.
In consequence, the Ravens allowed 57 sacks final season, second most within the league and up from 32 in 2020 and 28 in 2019.
They may go into 2022 hoping, once more, that Stanley is wholesome sufficient to protect quarterback Lamar Jackson’s blind aspect. They may probably depend on a special veteran, ultra-durable Morgan Moses, to carry the fort on the proper aspect. However normal supervisor Eric DeCosta has vowed to not depart his roster in need of contingency choices this time round. Which means the Ravens will nearly actually add a younger sort out, maybe a couple of, in subsequent week’s draft.
DeCosta and director of participant personnel Joe Hortiz have mentioned it is a serendipitous 12 months to go searching for linemen, with high quality gamers prone to be accessible in every of the primary 4 rounds.
“We really feel that there’s a chance within the draft to deal with the sort out spot in some unspecified time in the future, whether or not it’s within the first spherical or within the fourth spherical,” DeCosta mentioned on the group’s pre-draft information convention earlier this month. “There are good gamers all all through this 12 months; it’s a really, very deep place class. So, there are quite a lot of alternative ways for us to pores and skin the cat, and we’ll do this in some unspecified time in the future.”
Their opinion is echoed across the league, with analysts and group executives suggesting the perfect values on this draft will come from rounds three and 4, the place the Ravens can have seven mixed picks.
“With the offensive line, you’re going to have the ability to discover tackles just about all through this draft,” mentioned NFL Community analyst and former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah.
Will that depth obviate the Ravens’ must search for a sort out within the first spherical, particularly on condition that they anticipate to start out veterans at each spots? The highest three gamers on the place, Ikem Ekwonu of N.C. State, Evan Neal of Alabama and Charles Cross of Mississippi State, are usually projected to go forward of decide No. 14. If Cross drops out of the highest 10, the Ravens might take into account buying and selling up for him, however such a transfer would quantity to a vote of diminished confidence in Stanley’s well being, as a result of Cross is taken into account a pure left sort out prospect with probably the most polished move blocking approach within the class.
If the Ravens maintain their spot, the sort out probably to tantalize them is Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning, the consensus No. 4 participant on the place and an enchanting mix of alluring and regarding traits. Would the Ravens use their first-round decide on a sort out who may not begin over Moses as a rookie?
The case for Trevor Penning
If the Ravens wrote a job profile for his or her best offensive lineman, lots of the traits would match up with these ascribed to the 6-foot-7, 325-pound Penning. They love ornery, gargantuan blockers who annihilate the thing in entrance of them within the run sport. Nicely, Professional Soccer Focus described Penning as “out for blood,” including that “you completely won’t see extra dominant run-blocking tape on the Division I degree.”
And Penning isn’t any oaf. He was among the many quickest, most agile tackles examined on the NFL scouting mix. Scouts persistently reward the bend he achieves together with his large, highly effective body.
Again in February, earlier than the Ravens signed Moses, Jeremiah mentioned Penning can be the surest match conceivable if he have been accessible at No. 14. “As a result of once you watch him, this man is only a Raven,” he mentioned. “The best way he performs, the physicality, he’s enormous. He’s 330 kilos. He’s nearly 6-foot-7. Certainly one of my favourite nuggets on him was the man actually watches horror films the night time earlier than the sport to get into character. I can suppose again to my again to my time in Baltimore once we had Orlando Brown, Zeus, the unique Orlando Brown, and I assumed, oh, my gosh, this could be Zeus reincarnate right here with Trevor Penning.”
Scouts don’t love every little thing about Penning. He bullied lesser competitors at Northern Iowa, his stability and hand approach as a move blocker want work and he typically let his ferocity get the higher of him in faculty, the place he drew 34 penalties over his final 31 video games.
In latest mock drafts, ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay predicted the Ravens will move on Penning in favor of a move rusher or defensive again. They’ve extra holes to fill and extra fast snaps to supply on protection. They’ve eight picks in rounds two by means of 4 to make use of on a deep sort out class.
So, there are many causes to suppose they’ll look elsewhere at No. 14.
But when Penning is on the market, it will not be straightforward for them to move on a possible beginning sort out who so clearly matches their prototype for an offensive lineman.
Listed below are another tackles the Ravens may take into account later within the draft:
Tulsa’s Tyler Smith: The 6-foot-5, 324-pound Smith may very well be the Ravens’ man in the event that they’re in search of a uncooked powerhouse to develop behind Stanley and Moses. He’s a Ravens-sized blocker who strikes and bends properly to enhance his spectacular power. However draft analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic described Smith as “extremely uncooked” with fundamentals that “have to be rebuilt from the bottom up.”
Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele: In a world of superior bodily specimens, they don’t come any extra superior than the 6-foot-8, 390-pound Faalele. The Ravens love massive linemen, however Faalele would dwarf even Ben Cleveland, the mountainous guard they picked final 12 months. The Australia native didn’t play in an organized soccer sport till his senior 12 months of highschool however began for 2 seasons for granted sort out at Minnesota and proved about as immovable as you may anticipate. Faalele wants loads of refinement as a move blocker, however he can be an enchanting developmental prospect behind Stanley and Moses.
Penn State’s Rasheed Walker: The 6-foot-6, 324-pound Walker was a four-star recruit out of Waldorf and began at left sort out for 3 years at Penn State, the place he displayed the fast toes and suppleness wanted to thrive on the premium place. However some draft analysts say his faculty efficiency didn’t finally match his instruments as he struggled to wash up dangerous habits together with his footwork and physique positioning. Nonetheless, he can be an intriguing prospect for the Ravens to educate up at both sort out spot.
“If you wish to like him, you could find tape that you’ll actually like him. If you wish to be bummed out about him, you could find tape to be bummed out about him,” Jeremiah mentioned. “However this man has obtained all of it in his physique. He’s a real wild-card man. If he will get with the proper offensive line coach, he might find yourself being a extremely good starter, or he might find yourself actually struggling someplace.”