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The Most Interesting Thing About The 2022 Ravens

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The most interesting thing about the Baltimore Ravens is their offensive line. It’s the key for everything in 2022. The Lamar Jackson and Greg Roman partnership has worked when the offensive line was rocking it. The offense has dealt with a lot of problems when the offensive line hasn’t been there.

In 2019 season, the utopia I keep going back to, was the best the offensive line the Ravens had in recent memory. In the 2020 season the Ravens may have beaten the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round if the right side of the offensive line was just a little useful. Let’s not even talk about last season. The point is that Lamar Jackson needs that line to do its job.

The Ravens five starters are still up in the air as we get ready for training camp. There are three things we know, the rest we have to figure out. First Ronnie Stanley is the left tackle as long as he stays healthy. Second, Tyler Linderbaum is the starting center. Third, Kevin Zeitler is playing right guard. Left guard and right tackle are positions that are up for grabs.

Left guard is a bit of a mess. There’s no definitive starter. Tyre Phillips is a name that many Ravens fans are probably tired of hearing, but he’s probably got the best shot to win the job. The Ravens always intended Phillips to be a guard. They put him at tackle out of necessity. While Phillips had far too many problems at right tackle, he has the traits that should help him as an interior offensive lineman.

Phillips is a 6’5″ 330-pound mammoth of a man. His footwork against speed rushers to the outside is dreadful. In pass protection he’s much better off playing inside while tangling in a much smaller phone booth. Phillips can manhandle people in the run game though, and his size and strength are nothing to take lightly. Phillips has won the left guard spot before and he keeps getting on the field. There’s something to that. The coaches like Phillips and that gives him an advantage.

The Ravens would like Ben Cleveland to work out, so he’s got an opportunity to fight for this job. Cleveland has size that nobody can compete with. Last season he was a bit of a project. He looked stiff and his obvious physical assets didn’t always translate to great results. According to Pro Football Focus he’s played 357 snaps. It’s not the biggest sample size but what it shows is an uneven performance. Cleveland needs to be a little less stiff at the hips and his feet need to be a little lighter and more active. If he puts it together all of the jaw dropping traits could make him the best man for the job.

It’s now or never for the other Ben, Ben Powers. Powers got his first real opportunity in the 2019 regular season finale when the Ravens rested their starters against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last year was a big shot for Ben Powers to show what he has to offer. With a lot of snaps under his belt now, it’s hard to draw conclusions on Powers. He’s never been overly impressive and he’s not the human plow you want to see in the run game. There’s nothing all that exciting about his game right now. Phillips has scheme familiarity working for him. Cleveland has a high ceiling because of the things you can’t coach. Powers is absolutely in this position battle, but you have to wonder about his momentum.

Pat Mekari makes this thing interesting. He is probably the leading candidate to be the sixth man of the offensive line. Mekari is a great player to have as a swing tackle. If it’s about playing the best five offensive linemen though, Mekari may have to be a starter. Don’t completely rule out Mekari playing left guard. He started his journey as a center and he can play all five spots. A line with Mekari in between Stanley and Linderbaum makes a ton of sense.

Outside of Stanley and Zeitler, Mekari may be the most polished and talented lineman on the team. He’s been playing tackle but he’s built like an interior offensive lineman. If Linderbaum pans out and Mekari and Zeitler are the guards, that’s great from a pass protection standpoint. It’s kind of a wild card idea. But Mekari as the starting left guard is an idea to play with during training camp.

Enough guard talk. Let’s talk about tackles.

Morgan Moses is probably the penciled in starter at the right tackle spot. He’s the most known commodity. He’s a huge 6’6″ tackle with experience on two different NFL teams. Moses has a reputation of being an above average starter. The Ravens got him at an affordable free agent price, so that’s the best they can hope for. Moses is a much more legitimate shot at fixing the tackle spot than signing D.J. Fluker was a couple of seasons ago.

There’s a lot of unknown behind Moses. What should we think about Ja’Wuan James? James is a former first round pick of the Miami Dolphins. He has 65 games under his belt, but he hasn’t played for a long stretch. That’s a concern. If he can be the player he once was, he’ll be in the mix for the starting spot on the right side. Your guess is as good as mine in terms of what we’ll see from James, which at this point makes him the great unknown across the offensive front.

Daniel Faalele has a very outside shot to start as a rookie. He was a fourth-round pick. It’s fairly similar to the situation with Ben Cleveland, they’re both massive players, but they’re very raw. Faalele may be a project but he’s a project with Orlando Brown Jr. like traits. He’s a player to watch at camp and during the preseason, but more so, with an eye towards the future.

If I had to put money on it, I’d think your starting offensive line will shape up as follows:

Left Tackle: Ronnie Stanley
Left Guard: Tyre Phillips
Center: Tyler Linderbaum
Right Guard: Kevin Zeitler
Right Tackle: Morgan Moses

Only three spots on the starting offensive line are more or less written in sharpie. There’s a lot to figure out in camp. James vs. Moses could be the battle of training camp. Cleveland vs. Phillips is another battle I’d keep an eye on. The good news is that there is plenty of competition and that only makes everybody better. The Ravens will keep eight, maybe nine offensive linemen. That means one or two of the aforementioned players will sit atop the roster bubble.

But for now the focus will be upon the battle for the starting positions. And that’s what we’ll be watching most closely

The post The Most Interesting Thing About The 2022 Ravens appeared first on Russell Street Report.


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