Posted in Ravens Thoughts

2022 NFL Draft Prospects that scream Ravens

By Chris Schisler

The 2022 NFL Draft is basically here. Soon I’ll be having my customary Peanut M&M’s and watching the draft with a few Bold Rocks and all is good with the world. While you may have your annual draft traditions, you’re probably not equipped with your big board and position rankings ready to go, That’s where guys like me come into the picture.

Today we’re going to take a look at the players that just scream Ravens. These are the prospects that would surprise not one soul in the Ravens Flock or in the football world if they ended up in Baltimore. The most talked-about player in this category has been Jordan Davis. Davis is an unbelievable prospect in the sense that almost nobody has ever been built like him.

At the NFL Combine, Davis measured as a 6-6 345 pound man. He’s massive. While he’s not quite the dancing bear that Haloti Ngata was, he has the unrefined explosiveness that gets results. Davis has a quick explosion out of his stance, he gets a lot done with each stride and rip. He needs to make more of himself as a pass rusher, but NFL teams are certainly wondering if he can have an Aaron Donald-like impact in the NFL.

While drafting Davis isn’t my totally ideal scenario, the upside makes this in play. The Ravens have to look at defensive linemen quite seriously. It’s one position group that made one of the smallest impacts last season. A pick that makes perfect sense in the second round would be Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey. Winfrey is a 6-4 defensive lineman with a 290-pound build. He’s a bit more of a knife into the backfield kind of tackle but he gives you all the two-gap space-eating goodness to go with it.

Trench warfare needs to be improved on both sides of the ball. One center that I think would work incredibly well in Baltimore is Luke Fortner. This is a big-bodied Bradley Bozeman replacement that could come at a great value. I have Fortner as the 52nd best player in this draft class, but I bet in actuality he can be gotten in the third round.

There’s been a ton of talk about Trevor Penning being in play with the 14th overall selection. Penning is a small school product but a big-bodied bruiser. While he would add a mean streak to the offensive line, he’s never really been, my guy. This is a take I hold firmly at the 14th overall spot.  He’s a bit more of a project than most people seem to think and he’s not very polished. If the Ravens want an offensive tackle, the realistic fit I see most is Bernard Raimann. He’s a solid technician of an offensive tackle from Minnesota. This reminds me of the Le’Veon Bell vs. Mark Ingram thing. The Ravens typically go substance over flash. Either way, they’d have to trade back for either player to work for me.

Cornerback is a position that the Ravens can surely justify being aggressive with. Have you seen the passing attack of the Cincinnati Bengals? No corner screams Ravens more than Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. He’s an aggressive corner with a Marcus Peters-style swagger that would fit right in. If that doesn’t happen, Kyler Gordon out of Washington is a great option. He’s just so tough and scrappy that you get “Play Like a Raven” vibes.

Then there’s Quay Walker. Walker is a linebacker from Georgia who has never seen a hit he didn’t want to make. He’s tough and he’s a thumper but he has enough athleticism to be a starting linebacker next to Patrick Queen. That screams Ravens.

Finally on my list is Romeo Doubs, a wide receiver from Nevada. Doubs has that Anquan Boldin-like fight for the ball thing going that really works for Baltimore. Find me anything with more staying power than Ravens fans looking for that. You can’t.

I know it’s been a while guys. Thanks for hearing me out. Let’s get it Ravens Flock!

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: Top 3 offseason needs ranked

By Chris Schisler

Technically, the Baltimore Ravens season isn’t over. If you can’t start looking to the offseason and turn a bit to free agency and the NFL Draft though, you’re not living in reality. The Ravens are in a better situation than many teams faced with a likely elimination from a postseason berth. They have their quarterback (stay off the dark corners of Ravens Facebook – they have their quarterback and he wears number eight). The Ravens have their head coach and are looking at a 2022 season where they’ll get back key pieces to the puzzle.

The Ravens are going to miss the playoffs in all likelihood though, so let’s get ready. The first step for any problem solving is admitting you have a problem. What are the Ravens’ team-building problems? Let’s talk about where they need to get better.

1. The Baltimore Ravens need the offensive line fixed

One could say that the secondary is the biggest area of need. It’s a close second. But when the ravens get Marcus Peters back (assuming he returns next season), and Marlon Humphrey is back, a lot of the secondary problems will go away or at least be severely muted. There is no quick fix to the offensive line. The return of Ronnie Stanley will be a great boost, but the unit isn’t set the second he returns.

In the 2020 season, the Ravens were plagued by that awful combination that is Tyre Phillips and D.J. Fluker. In 2021, the offensive tackle was a mess for the Ravens. Alejandro Villanueva made it pretty clear that he’s only comfortable on the left side and he’s not a great left tackle. Villanueva was somewhat solid and on the offensive line’s most important position group that will never fly for long.

The real problem was on the right side though. Patrick Mekari did admirably in fill-in duty but he’s not who you want starting at tackle. Mekari will be back, rightfully so after signing a nice extension with the team. Ideally, he’s your most valuable fill-in who can play every offensive line position.

When Mekari wasn’t at right tackle it was ugly. One goal of the offseason has to be never seeing Tyre Phillips play right tackle again. The Ravens can’t go into next season with Phillips even a plan B at right tackle. The Ravens would be wise to load up on tackles. Maybe Villanueva stays as a backup to Stanley- there are worse situations in the world – but the Ravens need to address this position. From the NFL Draft or maybe even free agency, they need a starting right tackle and a plan B, that doesn’t make Ravens fans cover their eyes.

The Ravens have Stanley, Bradley Bozeman, and Kevin Zeitler. That’s what works for the starting offensive line for next season as of now. Adding two starters and filling out the depth chart for the big guys up front is essential. The Ravens have to win the line of scrimmage before they can worry about anything else. It’s that simple.

2. The Secondary

What the Baltimore Ravens need more than anything is a free safety. The Ravens need a defensive back who can play the middle of the field, who has the range to take away big plays and make some in the process. Think about how different this defense would be with a player like Ed Reed. Then find a player who gives you the closest possible match to that. You’ll never find another Reed but the idea is getting a ballhawk, with range and football instincts you can’t coach. A play-making free safety who takes the ball away would make Don Martindale a more dangerous defensive coordinator.

If this season taught us anything it’s that you can never have enough cornerbacks. Anthony Averett is a free agent and I could see him getting paid elsewhere more than the Ravens should pay him. The Ravens have to add a bit to the cornerback position. Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Tavon Young, and Brandon Stephens make a nice start. You need to draft a guy who can chip in right away and has a chance to develop. You could make an argument that the Ravens should go with a defensive back in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but with many picks, they need to address the secondary with a couple of players.

3. Defensive Line/ Pass Rushers:

The Ravens added a piece to the puzzle with Odafe Oweh in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Ravens need to add another young edge rusher to the mix. They need to find a complementary talent that will grow up with Oweh in this defense. You always need pass rushers. You always need more pass rushers. We already know that. With Justin Houston being a free agent, an edge rusher could be a bigger need.

Let’s look at this defensive line though. Calais Campbell may call it quits after this season, and if he does continue his career he’s a free agent. Brandon Williams is getting up there and even if he’s solid we’re seeing diminishing returns. Justin Madubuike’s okay but he didn’t have the year two breakout we were looking for. The defensive line is not a high-impact group right now. The Ravens may have needs in front of this one, but they have to fix that.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens fall to Rams: Good, bad, ugly

 

 

Posted in Complicated made simple: X's and O's and scouting for all fans

Baltimore Ravens salary cap: Strategy or coincidence?

By Jiji Nakaba

Did the Baltimore Ravens switch their offense to optimize their use of salary cap dollars better?

In 2019 the Baltimore Ravens created a new offense based on running the ball better than any other team in the League, utilizing Lamar Jackson’s unique running talent and his threat of running, requiring defenses to pay attention to him.

This offense is ideal for optimizing the running talents of running backs, the blocking talents of Tight Ends and Fullbacks, and is sub-optimal for passing statistics. The effects: great stats for rushing attempts, poor stats for passing yards, and this style of offense keeps the defense off the field for much of the game.

Fact: QB: Ravens have one on a rookie contract for now. An extension will be signed for >40 million/year but Franchise quarterbacks take up a large percentage of the cap. There are no exceptions.

Opinion: The only way to avoid paying big for a Franchise quarterback is to have a journeyman quarterback or a good one on a rookie contract. I’m not saying I don’t want the Ravens to extend Lamar Jackson. I believe an early extension for Jackson will put pressure on the Browns to pay Mayfield too much or make him unhappy.  It will be interesting to see how the Browns handle the cap trying to keep all the talent they accrued because of their losing seasons. They either franchise players, pay them too much, or let them walk starting with Chubb.

Fact: Premier Rushers are at the top of the salary scale.

Opinion: The Baltimore Ravens don’t have any premier rush ends and don’t try to sign any (after Terrell Suggs). They used a first-round pick on a pass rusher instead of going after a highly-paid veteran.

Fact: Defensive Tackles are paid less than Defensive Ends.

Opinion: Raven sign Defensive Tackles at the end of their careers, but don’t try to sign top tier Defensive Tackles, preferring to draft and develop them or add UDFA’s.

Fact: Running backs and tight ends are among the lowest-paid skill position players.

Opinion: The Ravens frequently have Pro Bowl-level running backs and tight ends and don’t need to spend first-round picks to get them. I think they were going to draft a running back in the later rounds in 2020 but J.K. Dobbins fell to them and they couldn’t pass him up.

Fact: Premier Receivers are among the highest-paid players.

Opinion: Ravens don’t have any ultra highly paid receivers and don’t try to sign any. They’ve never had a Pro Bowl receiver. The Ravens are drafting receivers every year now. Are they trying to create a succession plan of rookie salaried receivers? Will they let receivers walk after their rookie contracts?

Fact: Top tier cornerbacks are at the top of the salary scale but cheaper than Defensive ends

Opinion: The Baltimore Ravens are prioritizing cornerbacks over defensive ends because they’re cheaper – they have Pro Bowl level cornerbacks but sign them to extensions early when it’s less costly. The Ravens also always draft secondary talent every year – trying to create a cheap succession plan?

Fact: Linebackers are mid-scale salary-wise

Throughout their history, the Ravens have frequently had Pro Bowl quality linebackers. They are at the top of the league in drafting and developing Inside linebackers – it’s in their DNA.

Fact: Safeties are at the bottom of the defensive player salaries

Opinion: The Ravens’ current safeties are signed to reasonable contracts.  Though they did sign Earl Thomas to a big contract, they got burned and should have learned from that.

Fact: Kickers are at the bottom of the salary scale

Opinion: The Baltimore Ravens have always had one of the top kickers in the game and develop them as well as any team in the League.

Fact: Fullbacks are at the bottom of the salary scale

Opinion: The Ravens nearly always have one of the best fullbacks in the League and let them walk at the end of their rookie year. Patrick Ricard is an exception because he’s a one-of-a-kind irreplaceable player.

Strategy or coincidence? In my opinion, I think the Ravens offense and the priorities on drafting is a salary cap strategy, not a coincidence. If the Ravens draft more receivers each year that will be strong evidence of it.

 

From https://sportsaspire.com/average-nfl-salary-by-position:

Average salaries (from a year ago, some adjustments made by me):

QB’s: 16 m

Defensive Ends: 13m

Defensive Tackles: 9.5m

Running Backs: 9.25m

Wide Receivers: 12m

Cornerbacks: 11.5m

Safeties: 8.2m

Tight Ends: 7.1m

Linebackers: 11.3m

Offensive lineman: 11.4m

NEXT POST for Baltimore Ravens fans: The NFL Covid-19 vaccine policy is a fair rule that makes sense

Punters/Kickers: 3.3m

Posted in Complicated made simple: X's and O's and scouting for all fans

Baltimore Ravens draft busts and what they were going for with them

By Chris Schisler

Ranking the worst Baltimore Ravens draft picks seems a little played out. I feel like I’ve written that kind of article before. I know you’ve read that kind of article before. It’s as if we needed to be told that Breshad Perriman or Matt Elam was objectively awful.

Let’s get on our compassionate hat and try to see what the Ravens were thinking. They’ve been bashed for picking these players and what’s the point of piling on. It may be a useful exercise to figure out what the Ravens were looking for instead of just saying they didn’t get it.

4 Baltimore Ravens draft picks gone wrong:

Matt Elam (2013)

I have a confession to make. I really was a big Matt Elam guy when he was coming out of Florida. The main thing I saw in Elam was a nose for the football… where did that go? Elam was a crazy productive player at the University of Florida, he was fun to watch too. In his last year with the Gators he had 76 tackles, four interceptions, and two sacks. He was a strong safety who routinely found his way to tackles in the backfield. I repeat where did that go?

The Baltimore Ravens drafted Elam at the end of the first round. It turned out to be an awful pick but some team would have scooped him up early in the second round. The Ravens mistook Elam’s productiveness for instincts. They thought his six career interceptions at Florida meant he had a feel for the game. They thought that his 22 tackles for a loss in his collegiate career meant that he was a natural run stopper. Yeah… about that.

It’s pretty convincing that Elam’s problem was confidence. At Florida, it was a lot simpler than it was with the Ravens’ defense. He got asked to do a lot with the Ravens. His rookie season wasn’t a disaster He started 15 games, he was in on 77 tackles and he had a pick.

I think the more the Ravens asked him to do other than “See football, attack football” the worse it was for him. Elam never had good coverage skills and was always limited outside of the tackle box. When a strong safety starts whiffing on tackles and taking himself out of position that’s kind of it for him.

Arthur Brown (2013)

Arthur Brown is the reason I’ll always have a little skepticism when it comes to big 12 linebackers. Brown was another prospect that didn’t work out where I totally get it from the Ravens perspective. Brown was a fast linebacker who was a little undersized. The idea was having a linebacker who could roam sideline to sideline and play well in pass coverage. On paper Brown had everything but a dominating build.

Let’s be honest, it is not hard to see what the Ravens saw. They have a statue of Ray Lewis outside M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore is in love with the idea of a slightly undersized linebacker who can cover a lot of ground in a hurry. The Ravens were predispositioned to this. Think of it this way, Patrick Queen and Brown have almost the same exact build. Queen is the kind of player Brown was supposed to be.

Breshad Perriman (2015)

This was a pick I was never not nervous about. Perriman had red flags. The point of this article isn’t to skewer Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta for things they already receive criticism for. That doesn’t mean there is a lot of nice things to say about this draft choice.

Perriman had a very big frame and awesome speed. This one isn’t hard guys. The Ravens were looking for the Randy Moss type. They were looking for the home run hitter for their offense, the big play down the field guy. To Perriman’s credit he was that for the UCF Knights, He averaged over 20 yards per reception in his last two seasons at Central Florida.

Did he ever have great hands? Nope. Were there concerns and red flags from an injury perspective? You bet. Did the Ravens care? Nope. The same way the Ravens went after traits and ignored everything else with Kyle Boller at the quarterback position they did with Perriman at the wide receiver position. He had traits. Sigh.

Maxx Williams (2015)

The Ravens were looking for Rob Gronkowski 2.0 here. Williams was a quick tight end with a 6-4 build that looked the part. One knock for Williams coming out was he was a stiff football player. Think of Williams like an action figure.

There are moving parts that connect to a rectangular body but the movement is tight and limited. It was one of the concerns about Gronkowski and it ended up not mattering for him (Obviously). The Ravens tried to learn from passing on Gronk but Williams wasn’t the same kind of player.

The Baltimore Ravens bottom Line:

The Ravens have gotten it wrong sometimes. It’s important to understand that there was a process. There is a reason these mistakes were made, and there was a reason that each pick provided hope before it provided dread.

NEXT POST: 3 Forgotten Baltimore Ravens of the month: vol. 2

I hope you enjoyed this twist on this kind of article. Keep coming back to Purple and Black Nest for everything Ravens.

Posted in Complicated made simple: X's and O's and scouting for all fans

Baltimore Ravens started taking chances for star power in NFL Draft

When the Baltimore Ravens drafted Odafe Oweh, they went against what they normally do with edge rushers in the NFL Draft. First, the Ravens hardly go after pass rushers in the first round.

Secondly, Oweh is a traits machine. He’s 6-5. He’s got prototype traits that you find in a player-created in a video game. Athletically speaking, Oweh just has it. Oweh has what you can’t coach. This actually is something Baltimore seldom goes after.

Terrell Suggs was insanely explosive but he was 6-3. Matt Judon and Tyus Bowser fit the same kind of mold as Suggs in terms of traits. Baltimore Ravens edge rushers tend to have a ton of heart and a very solid build usually under 6-4. It’s been a pattern.

The Ravens are taking a chance on Oweh because they see a potential payoff that’s through the roof. Oweh has a head start because he’s got the perfect 6-5 257 pound build and the explosive burst that goes with it. The Baltimore Ravens just went for it.

Think about the outside linebackers the Ravens have drafted in the past decade. Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams, Kamalei Correa you can go back all the way to Courtney Upshaw. They all have a similar frame and build. They weren’t NFL combine standouts. The Ravens kept chasing after Terrell Suggs types and didn’t take big swings in the first round.

Breaking the pattern:

To the Ravens’ credit, the Ravens have found some good players. Za’Darius Smith has flourished with the Green Bay Packers. He showed flashes in Baltimore and was solid. The Ravens hit, they just couldn’t keep him. Judon was a very important player for the Ravens; he was so important that he played under the franchise tag in the 2020 season. Bowser gets to try and be the next Judon. Oweh gets to try to be the next Suggs

If the 2021 NFL Draft goes the way it’s supposed to for the Baltimore Ravens, it will be the draft of big swings. It will be the draft where they finally got the big-time wide receiver in Rashod Bateman and they finally find the next great pass rusher in Odafe Oweh. This was an aggressive draft.

RELATED POST: Odafe Oweh: Rookie scouting report for Ravens 1st round pick

The concern for the Oweh pick is getting less pronounced as the offseason lingers on. That being said, the concern for the 27th overall pick was a valid one. Oweh is a raw player. He’s much more of a traits-based prospect than a production-based prospect. The Ravens took a chance here.

The Ravens don’t like to gamble with first-round picks. They usually take somebody safe at a position they have a good track record with. Think Hayden Hurst before trading back into the first round to get Lamar Jackson. They traded back and still drafted Hurst first. Think Ronnie Stanley, Patrick Queen, and Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens think the best player available much more willingly than they think high ceiling gamble. They love drafting a player that is a safe bet. 

The take-home point of this article: 

Make no mistake about it. Oweh was a gamble. That’s not the point here though, the point is that the Ravens are doing something different in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s quite possible that 10 years from now this kind of move will be the signature difference between Eric DeCosta and Ozzie Newsome. Oweh isn’t the story here. Oweh is an example of how things are changing. 

When you look at the rosters of those purgatory years after the Super Bowl XLVII title, you see a common thread. The Ravens lacked star power for their otherwise equipped rosters. The Ravens are looking for superstars now. Eric DeCosta isn’t okay with having underperforming wide receivers. He drafts Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman. He isn’t okay with having a lackluster pass rush so he rolls the dice on a raw player in Oweh who has traits galore. 

Jaylon Ferguson was a sign that the Ravens were moving in this direction as well. While the 2019 third-round pick hasn’t worked out, that doesn’t make him a bad example. He was a 6-5 edge rusher with the nickname of “Sack Daddy” at Louisiana Tech. You know exactly what the Baltimore Ravens were going for here. 

The Ravens still stick to the best player available model. That’s why the Ravens got J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. That’s what their board dictated. The Ravens are just less into a scouting comfort zone that they have grown into over the years. Analytics and prototypical traits matter more with DeCosta than they did with Newsome. 

Baltimore Ravens bottom line: 

The Ravens want their own Myles Garrett or their own T.J. Watt. Baltimore got tired of watching freaks of nature rush after Lamar Jackson without having some of their own to go after Baker Mayfield and Ben Roethlisberger. They want superstars and they’re willing to take the kinds of changes that they seldom took before DeCosta moved up to the top job. 

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Outside pressure is not the problem

The Ravens are going to start prioritizing star power. They know that stars make things easy. They’re seeing it with Lamar Jackson. He’s a game-changer and Baltimore knows they need more of those. It’s not a huge shift in philosophy, but it’s going to result in big shots like this taken in the NFL Draft. The Ravens are looking to hit on players with built-in advantages and high ceilings. 

Posted in Complicated made simple: X's and O's and scouting for all fans

NFL Draft: What to look for in offensive linemen: Examples from Ravens history

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have used the NFL Draft to get some of the best offensive linemen in the NFL’s history. Jonathan Ogden and Marshal Yanda top the list, but they’ve been solid upfront throughout much of their history. Do you want to know how scouting linemen works? Let’s talk fundamentals for a second.

Finding an offensive linemen is getting harder. Traits used to mean more than they currently do. That doesn’t mean traits aren’t important. It just means that more and more of the prospects have traits and not all of them are set just having the tools. First of all, let’s define what I mean by traits.

Traits are things that can be measured or observed. For example, a 6-8 build would count as height (and would most likely count as length). Height is different than length. Length is about reach and wingspan. Anything with size or athletic gifts that can be measured is a trait.

Things that can be observed and are consistent parts of a player’s game are traits. For example, great instincts were a defining trait of Ed Reed. It was obvious how he felt the game. That’s not subjective, that’s objective because it was well evidenced by the tape.

Let’s get back to offensive linemen. What are the main things you want to look for when you’re look for? Let’s start with the feet.

NFL Draft skills: Watch for footwork

The main thing you want to see is active feet. It’s a coaching cliche but if you stop your feet you get beat, especially in pass protection. The feet need to keep chopping. One warning sign to look for is what I call heavy feet. If it looks like a lineman’s feet are being weighed down by a chain, that’s a problem.

The term dancing bear is used in a lot of draft coverage. Basically that means that you want linemen who move gracefully. You want some bounce in their step, you want them to move the same way you want your skill positioned players to move. If it would count as stiff for a 220 pound tight end, it’s stiff for a 300 pound guard.

The most important thing for an offensive tackle is a good kick slide. It’s the simple step that allows the tackle to back up and give himself space to work against the pass rusher. You’ll know it when you see it. Good tackles and bad tackles have the same moves, the good ones just have superior form, technique, and movement.

When looking for footwork think WWRSD? That stands for What Would Ronnie Stanley Do? Stanley is probably the smoothest operator in the NFL. Stanley may have missed his calling as a tap dancer because he moves them perfectly. He doesn’t have them pointed every which way, he stays square and he has so much spring in his step that a slinky would feel jealous. Telling you to watch Stanley is a lot easier than explaining all this.

A problem to look out for

One warning sign is a disconnect between the upper body and the lower body. This is something that Michael Oher struggled with. He started playing football in high school. This put him at a disadvantage in the NFL. He was never a smooth operator because he hadn’t been doing it as long as a lot of the other players. You saw similar struggles with Jermaine Eluemunor, a player who came from England and basically just had his Texas A&M career as his experience.

I can actually detail this well because I struggled with this when I was playing football. I started playing rec league in the eighth grade. My career didn’t last past the high school football realm, but hey, I am proud I was a part of my high school team. Anyway, the mechanics never quite felt natural to me. I would have spurts where my upper body and my lower body stopped communicating. My upper body would take over because it was the easiest to focus on. My footwork was always going to be inconsistent because I never fully conquered the problem.

I recognized this pattern of behavior with Oher. He was used to relying on his size and strength at Ole’ Miss. In the NFL, inconsistent footwork was his biggest undoing. It made him paranoid to fire out of his stance and really pronounce his initial steps. He was the easiest tackle for a pass rusher to read. His problem was related to his confidence level. Why do you think he got beat to the inside so much? When his feet stopped with the disconnect issue, he had to reach and he had no leverage. Two ways of getting beat for one main problem.

Base, reach and moving with purpose:

The one thing you don’t want when it comes to winning with leverage is a lineman who likes to play bent over. You want a player who wins with leverage. A good bend at the hip is very important. He has to be able to anchor down almost like he’s sitting in an invisible chair. Matt Birk was the master of this.

He played center and he took on a ton of bull rushers in his career. He was good at getting his hands inside the defensive lineman’s pads and anchoring down with a solid and square base. Extra weight is a given with NFL caliber linemen, but not having flexibility or balance at the hips and knees is a sign of a bad lineman.

One of the worst two centers the Ravens ever had were A.Q. Shipley and Gino Gradkowski. These are two players who didn’t have the traits. Gradkowski was an all around undersized center. Shipley was what I call squatty (which is somehow not a word) and he had a lack of reach. Short arms are almost always a huge red flag. That’s a combine measurable that actually does matter.

Another thing I want to talk about is moving with purpose. This is a know-it when you see it kind of thing. Marshal Yanda didn’t have elite and prototypical traits. People forget that Yanda was a third-round pick. Yanda moved with purpose. He didn’t waste movement and he had amazing control.

Yanda was almost picture-perfect on technique. He had an accurate punch. Also, he attacked the exact place he needed to in order to make the block. Yanda had perfect form. The reason Yanda is in the Hall of Fame is that he had the most consistent tape for a right guard during his time in the NFL.

NFL Draft scouting final thoughts:

I am an ammeter NFL Draft scout. I don’t have a ton of resources and I’m not on the road going from school to school. YouTube usually has cutup videos of a player’s snaps from a game. That’s a great place to start. In the search type in (Player name) vs. With offensive linemen, it’s better to look for videos of that offensive line. If you want to watch Ben Cleveland for instance, type in “Georgia Bulldogs offensive line vs.”

You learn by doing and there is a lot more to this than I can fit in a single blog post. Hopefully, this can get you started if you’re interested in doing draft work. If not, hopefully, it gets you a little more tuned in to watching offensive line play. You don’t have to go to my level of having player rankings a big board and notebooks full of notes.

NEXT POST: Ravens are still the class of the AFC North

I started with the offensive line because I think it’s the position I scout the best. More Complicated Made Simple posts are on the way. Football is complicated but it’s simple when you take it bit by bit. I hope you all have fun with this.

Posted in Complicated made simple: X's and O's and scouting for all fans

Ravens Draft: Lessons from being wrong about Ronnie Stanley

By Chris Schisler

The Ravens drafted Ronnie Stanley in 2016 with the sixth overall pick. When Ronnie Stanley entered the 2016 NFL Draft, I didn’t quite see a future Pro Bowl offensive tackle. In fact, Stanley is my favorite player that I was ever wrong about as an amateur NFL Draft scout. Let’s take a look at why I was wrong about Stanley, the Ravens franchise left tackle.

The NFL Draft isn’t about the result. That’s going to sound stupid to a lot of people, and I really don’t care. There’s no way to know that a player is going to pan out or flop. It’s both a science and an art, and I get really annoyed when people question the process. Because the process is what the draft is about. More often than not, the process is what gets the players who worked out in a Ravens uniform.

Every year, I watch way too much tape on the NFL Draft process. I don’t get paid to do this, and YouTube videos with prospects snaps are really my big source. I do it for the process. It’s because it connects me to the game, the battery of my life. Football to me is like the yellow sun is for Superman. I’m a battery and that’s the charge.

Let’s talk Ronnie Stanley

I worried about Ronnie Stanley’s frame. I thought his build was a little too lean at the top and I worried about his ability to be the bull, to overpower guys. To be fair, I liked the athleticism and the footwork. It’s not like I saw him as a bad prospect, I was just very wary of him in the first round, especially in the top 10.

If I ever met Stanley, I would like to thank him for teaching me a lesson. Stanley showed me that prospects aren’t finished products. A lot of players, especially offensive tackles, build up an NFL body once they get to the NFL. Stanley had the quality tape, with solid traits. I got too caught up on one thing and it made me overthink the rest of the story.

Stanley is basically the same weight he was during the draft process. You can tell the work he did, however. He’s gotten more solid, thicker, and harder to beat. Stanley also lifted my eyes to the type of tackle the NFL was getting ready for. I was always looking for the massive monster, the human plow.

Stanley has great length and reach, but he’s fit and athletic. He’s got the power in more of a smooth package. I was looking for a 345 pound Jonathan Ogden type. Stanley showed me that in this day and age, he’s what we should be looking for.

I still prefer the big mauler. Everybody has a type at the positions he scouts. This year I was a big fan of the big tackles with a surplus of power and a mean streak. Samuel Cosmi was my guy. I still think he was the most overlooked prospect. Washington got him in the second round and he’s going to be great for them.

Ravens Take home point:

In 2016 though, I would never have considered a player like Rashawn Slater to be a top 10 player. Slater is a 6-4 304 pound prospect. He’s a tight end with a traditional offensive guard body. His game is built on athleticism and quick feet. In 2021, I saw a lot of Stanley in him. I stayed true to myself in my evaluations, but I adjusted the way I look at these types of players. In 2021, Slater was a top 10 prospect for me.

NEXT POST: Marquise Brown has Joe Flacco’s number and it’s okay

I don’t mind pulling up a failure of mine here. That’s part of it, and the draft is about the process. I have a big tower of guys I was right about. The miss pile is bigger than I want it, but that’s the case with everybody. The process is about learning, not overcorrecting, and becoming more in tune with the game at both the college and NFL levels. The process is what it’s about. The good news is the Ravens understand this perfectly.