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OTL: For 2024 Ravens, It Has to Be About the Line

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By: Darin McCann

We’ve weathered the initial wave of free agency, tested the steady rolling of the second wave and are now in calm waters as teams sift through what is left as they prepare for the draft.

But Ravens fans are left with one burning question at the moment: Assuming there is one in place, what exactly is the plan for the offensive line?

At the moment, two positions seem to be settled on for the upcoming campaign — Ronnie Stanley will man left tackle with a smaller paycheck, and Tyler Linderbaum will hold down the pivot. After that?

Questions. Lots of questions.

Ryan Mink and Garrett Downing, the two most public faces of Ravens media, released their popular Mailbag piece this week, and the offensive line was the first topic they… I don’t want to say “tackled.” Broached? Yeah, let’s go with “broached.”

When asked which in-house candidates had the best chance to win a starting job this season, Mink answered that it will probably be more than one.

“The most likely is Ben Cleveland stepping in for Kevin Zeitler at right guard,” wrote Mink. “Cleveland has the most experience of the candidates. He’s played well in his seven career starts. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ 27th-best guard in the league last season, including the third-best pass blocking grade (just behind Zeitler). Cleveland was a right guard throughout his time at Georgia and the hope is he’s on a Ben Powers-like trajectory as a breakout Year 4 starter.”

Barring something unanticipated, this one makes the most sense to me. We have all watched Cleveland improve fairly steadily during his time in Baltimore, and his cameo late last year was his most-impressive work yet.

Mink highlighted the other guard position as one possibly grabbed by a young lineman already on the roster.

“The other player I’m especially intrigued by is Andrew Vorhees,” wrote Mink. “He was an AP first-team All American and Morris Trophy winner (top offensive and defensive lineman in the Pac-12) in his final season at USC. Had it not been for the Combine knee injury, Vorhees may have been a Day 2 draft pick last year. Vorhees says he’s healthy and ready to play at the start of OTAs.”

This one looks good on paper, and was certainly part of the Ravens’ thinking when they scooped up the injured guard late in last year’s draft. But we have to see it. Or, more importantly, the Ravens coaches have to see it.

Matt Verderame of Sports Illustrated wrote an interesting piece where he shared the highest-paid NFL player at each position.

The Ravens had two of the bigger wallets in the game, position-wise, with linebacker Roquan Smith and kicker Justin Tucker.

“Last season, Smith had his first full campaign in Charm City and played splendidly, totaling 158 tackles and eight passes defensed on the way to first-team All-Pro honors,” wrote Verderame. “With Smith playing inside, Baltimore allowed Patrick Queen to walk in free agency.”

As for Tucker, well, Verderame believes this is an absolute no-brainer.

“Tucker has an argument as the greatest kicker in NFL history, and he’s rightfully being paid like it in Baltimore,” he wrote.

“Through 12 years with the Ravens, Tucker has been named first-team All-Pro five times and is the only kicker on the 2010s All-Decade Team. He also has a Super Bowl ring and, perhaps most incredibly, has missed only three field goals inside 40 yards.”

You know, if you’re going to pay two positions top-end money, it’s a good thing those players are Smith and Tucker. Consider that Darren Waller is the highest-paid tight end in the game, and he had… let me check this… carry the one…

He had one touchdown last year. That’s the same amount caught by Charlie Kolar.

Also of note around the Internetiverse:

Ravens Host Ed Reed’s Cousin, Tray Taylor, on 30 Visit | Baltimore Ravens




The post OTL: For 2024 Ravens, It Has to Be About the Line appeared first on Russell Street Report.

Originally posted on Russell Street Report