By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens have a fairly clear plan A when it comes to the offensive line. Ronnie Stanley returns to be the franchise left tackle. Ben Cleveland, Bradley Bozeman, and Kevin Zeitler, and Alejandro Villanueva make up the rest of the line.
Last season, the Ravens didn’t get to stick with their plan A on the offensive line. It’s a good idea to look at how the Ravens would operate if things didn’t go perfectly upfront for the offense. Do the Ravens have enough depth? Is their plan B or plan C survivable for a couple of games?
Let’s look at Plan B at offensive tackle
Considering that Ronnie Stanley has never played a full season without missing at least one game and there is an extra game it’s something to think about. With Stanley coming back from a major injury the Ravens must be prepared.
The key backup at offensive tackle is Tyre Phillips. If something happens to Stanley, Villanueva goes back to the left tackle spot, where he had a long run with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Phillips would be the right tackle. If something were to happen to Villanueva, Phillips is his understudy. Like it or not, Phillips is the backup plan on the outside of the offensive line.
The good news here is that Phillips always was a developmental player. Phillips has the traits to be a successful tackle. He has a massive 6-5 build and he just needs to hone his craft. In a perfect world, you don’t hear his name in the 2021 season, and he develops into a viable starter after one or two years of Villanueva at right tackle. If he’s called on in the 2021 season for a few games, he could get Baltimore out of the patch, but it’s far from ideal.
Plan B at guard and center
The left guard spot is where it gets interesting. The spot is up for grabs. There are three Ben’s: Cleveland, Powers, and Bredeson. There’s also Patrick Makari. who has started at both guard and center for the Ravens. The guard position has depth covered.
Ben Powers has gotten enough playing time that we have a good idea of what he brings to the table. Mekari may not have my confidence at the center position, but he’s certainly not a bad blocker. He may actually be the player that sneaks into the starting lineup at the beginning of the season.
The bottom line is at guard the Ravens have enough players to make it work. They have a few ways they could go at left guard and that’s a sign of quality depth. Of course, this doesn’t include Bradley Bozeman, the presumed starting center.
Speaking of the center position, the Ravens’ offensive line has a solid backup plan there. Trystan Colon-Castillo is the presumptive backup to Bozeman. Castillo played well in the rescheduled game against the Pittsburgh Steelers a year ago. He looks the part and has impressed in a very limited sample size.
Grading Baltimore Ravens plan B at OT, OG, and C
Offensive tackle: B
Phillips may have been problematic last season, though he’s only entering his second season. He got a lot of playing time as a rookie. Phillips never struck me as a guard. Being solidly considered an offensive tackle could be the right call for him. The fact that Villanueva can play left tackle if need be helps with contingency plans. There is a clear drop-off from Villanueva to Phillips. That’s why he’s a backup.
There aren’t many teams with more options for two guard spots coming into training camp. While most of the players are unproven or relatively untested, the Ravens have more than one viable started at left guard. That’s not too shabby.
Trystan Collon-Castillo is a young player with a lot of promise. We’ve only seen a little bit of what he can do, though he looks like a player who can become a starter in the NFL.
The Ravens are a much stronger team if they stay healthy on the offensive line. The projected starting five is their best unit. If things go according to plan, then the offensive line is a potential boost for the season. Plan B is never ideal but the Ravens could be better off than a lot of teams if they need to turn to it.