To stabilize right tackle, Ravens should look to draft

The Ravens have used at least 17 starters at the position since 1996

  • From left to right: Greg Robinson (Auburn), Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) and Zack Martin (Notre Dame) could potentially become the Ravens' long-term solution at right tackle.
From left to right: Greg Robinson (Auburn), Jake Matthews (Texas…
April 07, 2014|Mike Preston

The Ravens can't seem to tackle this problem.

When it comes to right offensive tackles, they haven't been able to secure one with longevity. They've been through at least 17 starters at that position since the franchise moved from Cleveland to Baltimore for the 1996 season.

They've had some big softies like James Atkins and Adam Terry. They've had some fake tough guys like Jah Reid and Tony Pashos. There were some who were over the hill like Willie Anderson, Leon Searcy and Erik Williams, and others who couldn't hold the snap count past one like Michael Oher and Ethan Brooks.

There were two promising ones who were moved to guard in Kelechi Osemele and Marshal Yanda and two who were actually good in Harry Swayne and Orlando Brown.

But none stayed long.

The Ravens could change that during the upcoming NFL draft. They have the No. 17 overall pick and if they select Notre Dame's Zack Martin they would not only fill a pressing need, but possibly anchor the position for a substantial period of time.

This is the right time to do it. The Ravens signed left offensive tackle Eugene Monroe to a five-year, $37.5 million contract on March 11 and new center Jeremy Zuttah recently agreed to a five-year, $18 million contract. Both guards, Yanda and Osemele, are locked up for two more seasons.

Martin appears to be a safe bet. He is versatile and could play either guard or tackle. He is tough and has that nasty demeanor, the type where he stands over an opponent when he knocks him to the ground.

Now imagine Martin and Yanda on the same side — that's some serious attitude.

The Ravens might have some other tackle ranked just as high on their draft board, like Auburn's Greg Robinson or Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, and if they can get one of them it would solve an immediate and long-standing problem.

Adding Daniels good, but Ravens need blocker

The Ravens' acquisition of former Houston tight end Owen Daniels was a good one. With Daniels on one side and fellow tight end Dennis Pitta on the other, it allows the Ravens to balance up defenses.

Plus, Daniels gives quarterback Joe Flacco another weapon inside the red zone, an area in which the Ravens struggled last season.

The problem, though, is that the Ravens don't have a good run-blocking tight end on the roster, and that's critical in the zone blocking scheme where the tight end is basically the marker for inside and outside runs.

The Ravens still have to find a tight end that can move opposing players off the ball at the point of attack. It wouldn't be unusual for offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to have three tight ends on the roster.

Smith brings veteran work ethic

There is a tendency to overlook newly acquired receiver Steve Smith as a blocker. He likes to go down field and latch on to defensive backs, much like Anquan Boldin did when he was with the Ravens in 2012.

It's always good when the Ravens sign a proven veteran because you get to see how they practice and carry themselves. The great ones, like Ray Lewis, Rod Woodson and Shannon Sharpe, always have that strong work ethic.

They are always doing that little something extra to give them an edge.

Ravens won't pursue Johnson

The Ravens have some areas of concern at the running back position, but I don't see them going after Chris Johnson, who was recently cut by Tennessee.

The Titans dumped Johnson because of the $8 million salary he was expected to earn this season. No other team will offer him that type of money either, and general manager Ozzie Newsome won't go after Johnson unless he gets a huge discount.

Plus, the Ravens still have three more years of paying current starter Ray Rice and will take a salary cap hit of $8.7 million for Rice this season and $7.7 million for 2015 and 2016.

Should have signed Blount

There is nothing unusual about head coaches or coordinators signing former players. The Ravens have done that with several players who once worked for Kubiak in Houston.

These players serve as teachers because they know the system, and their former coaches have a certain confidence level in them. Former Ravens head coach Brian Billick brought in some ex-Vikings when he came from Minnesota to the Ravens in 1999.

But I still would have signed running back LeGarrette Blount over former Texan Justin Forsett.

Forsett is a stop-gap player. Blount, a big back, can make plays and finish off a defense in the fourth quarter.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

twitter.com/MikePrestonSun

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