Next investment for the Ravens should be on the offensive line

April 08, 2013|Mike Preston

The Ravens seem to have everything in place on offense.

They have two vertical threats at receiver in Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, and two good running backs in Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. They also recently signed quarterback Joe Flacco to a six-year, $120.6 million contract.

The question is who will protect Flacco's blind side?

If a team makes that type of investment in a quarterback, it should at least have a quality player protecting him where he is most vulnerable.

Right now, the Ravens don't have a great answer for the left offensive tackle position, and it will be interesting to see how they handle it during the NFL draft which is about two weeks away.

According to most of the draft experts there are three standout left offensive tackles — Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, Oklahoma's Lane Johnson — but all are expected to be gone by the time the Ravens select at No. 32 in the first round.

With 12 overall picks, the Ravens could trade up.

"These are three left tackles that are all bunched together, three left tackles that you're splitting hairs trying to separate," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. "They're pretty much equal. In a normal draft, they'd be between seven and 15. In this draft, they get pushed up. And Lane Johnson has made a lot of strides since that Senior Bowl week where he was dominant, plus he can play left tackle or right tackle.

"Yeah, if you want Johnson, you're going to have to move up a little bit. If you're lucky and fortunate maybe he's there at 11. If he's not, the only left tackle in the second round mix would be Terron Armstead from Arkansas Pine Bluff. That would be it. There's nobody else, that's not a good left tackle group after the top three." "

The Ravens still could re-sign former starter Bryant McKinnie, or they might try to switch second-year player Kelechi Osemele from left guard to left tackle, or they might consider moving Michael Oher from right tackle to the left side.

But we've seen that move with Oher before. All the other options seem more viable.

Ayanbadejo overreacted

It was interesting watching former Ravens outside linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo go back and forth last week about why he was cut by the Ravens.

At first he suggested the Ravens cut him because of his vocal support of gay marriage and then he retracted the statements within 24 hours .

I think he might have overreacted from the initial news of getting cut and that happens with athletes near the end of their careers.

The bottom line is that he didn't play well last season, especially in the postseason when he didn't have a special team's tackle. He had clear shots at Denver's Trindon Holliday who returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown and a kickoff 104 yards for another score.

That in itself was enough evidence for dismissal. Ayanbadejo, though, is a nice guy but apparently needs to know how to handle the media better.

Ravens will benefit from Castillo hire

A major coup for the Ravens was the signing of Juan Castillo as the team's run game coordinator. A lot of teams wanted Castillo when the coaching staff in Philadelphia was fired, but he decided to reunite with John Harbaugh, whom he coached with in Philly.

Because of his wealth of knowledge and experience, Castillo's signing could be as beneficial as the Ravens adding Jim Caldwell to the staff last off season.

Dansby would fit with Ravens

If the Ravens don't draft an inside linebacker who can step in right away, they might take a look at unrestricted free agent Karlos Dansby, a former Miami Dolphin.

Dansby has had over 100 tackles the last two seasons with the Dolphins including a career high 134 last year. He is 31 and healthy, and was let go soon after Miami signed former Raven Dannell Ellerbe in the offseason.

Dansby is also good in coverage having knocked down nine passes last season, also a career high.

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