Posted in Ashley's 3 big questions

Baltimore Ravens: 3 Big Questions as Ravens Travel to the Windy City

By: Ashley Anderson

Coming off an embarrassing 22-10 loss against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night football, the Baltimore Ravens had to do some soul searching this week. With a few extra days rest, they travel to Chicago on Sunday to take on the Bears. Led by rookie quarterback Justin Fields, the Bears are currently 3-6. Their record is deceiving though, as they have played a number of close games. Here are the big questions leading into Week 10.

3.) Can the Baltimore Ravens find a way to limit big plays defensively?

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” – Cool Hand Luke, 1967.

When people think of the Baltimore Ravens, they typically think of bruising defenses led by the likes of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Although there is plenty of talent on the 2021 squad, it seems like the Ravens are struggling to put them all together. Nearly every week, even if the defense plays well as a whole, they experience lapses. Big plays have become the norm rather than the unexpected.

Somewhat astonishingly, Baltimore has allowed six plays of 50 or more yards in just the past three weeks. Their busted coverage on a 64-yard catch and run by Albert Wilson evaporated any chance of a comeback against Miami. Even in the win against Minnesota, they surrendered a 50-yard touchdown to Justin Jefferson.

Long-time fans are baffled by the overall performance of the unit, which is typically prideful and dominant. There are plenty of factors, including injury, that point to the down year. The biggest issue, however, seems to be a lack of communication within the group.

For some time, the Ravens were struggling with tackling, leading to explosive plays. They seemed to have that figured out a bit in recent games, but there have still been several big plays. Often, there appears to be a breakdown in pre-snap communication. Safety Chuck Clark wears the green dot on his helmet, so he is ultimately responsible for relaying the play calls. Marlon Humphrey has also taken responsibility for his part in the lapses.

All-in-all, chunk plays are a dagger for any defense. The Ravens know this is an area of weakness and one that must improve if they hope to make a playoff run this season. Facing a rookie quarterback in Justin Fields should help them get things right this week.

2.) Will the running game get back on track?

For years, the bread and butter of Baltimore’s offense was their rushing attack. It seemed they could run against any and every team in the NFL. However, there has never been another season where the Ravens lost all three of their top running backs prior to the start of the year.

The losses left the front office reeling as they searched for help. Ty’Son Williams made the 53-man roster out of camp, and Baltimore quickly added Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell. Since then, they also added Nate McCrary back to the practice squad.

Murray missed the past three games with an ankle injury, and the run game suffered as a result. Most weeks, quarterback Lamar Jackson is actually the leading rusher, and none of the backs separated from the pack. With Murray finally getting healthy, the Ravens made the surprise choice to part ways with Bell.

Much of the blame for the run game struggling can be placed on the offensive line. Without Ronnie Stanley, the unit was forced to shift Alejandro Villanueva to left tackle. Patrick Mekari had finally stabilized the right tackle role before he went down with an ankle injury. Second-year man Tyre Phillips is not built to be a tackle, but Baltimore was forced to use him there. Ben Powers and Ben Cleveland were rotating at left guard before Powers suffered a knee injury. Powers struggled in his absence.

Cleveland may be ready to return this week, and Mekari is also getting healthy. As the weather turns cold, Baltimore is certainly hopeful that someone or something can provide a spark on the ground. Could this be the week Nate McCrary finally gets a call-up?


1.) How will mid-week absences from Lamar Jackson and Bradley Bozeman affect the offense?

Both Lamar Jackson and Bradley Bozeman were sent home from practice Wednesday with non-Covid related illnesses. Jackson is virtually the only reason the Ravens are 6-3 at this point, but he has now missed practice time four separate weeks. Meanwhile, Bozeman has been the anchor of an offensive line that has faced a ton of adversity this season.

It is never a good thing when starters miss practice time for any reason. What makes matters worse is that Jackson and Bozeman are the most crucial pieces of an offense that would look dramatically different without them. At this point, there is no reason to believe either will miss Sunday’s game. The missed practice time, however, could throw off the rhythm of the entire offensive unit.

Jackson has shown an uncanny knack for building chemistry with his receivers despite the repeated absences. Still, there are moments when the timing seems just a touch off with this offense. For example, in his return from a three-game absence, Sammy Watkins was targeted early on a deep pass against the Dolphins. Unfortunately, he either believed the ball to be overthrown, or he lost it in the lights, and a would-be touchdown landed incomplete. Slightly better timing between Jackson and Watkins may have made a difference.

Losing Bozeman would be equally damaging. Last year, the Ravens struggled mightily with poor snaps, but Bozeman virtually eliminated the issue. He has been one of the top centers in the league and easily the best lineman in Baltimore. Without him, the Ravens would have to turn to Trystan Colon, who has primarily been used as an additional lineman in heavy packages. Colon would then have the responsibility of making pre-snap reads and trying to gel with a line that, as previously mentioned, already dealt with its fair share of change.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: A full examination of the Greg Roman situation

All-in-all, it is too early to panic here, but the situation bears watching (no pun intended). Jackson and Bozeman may both return tomorrow fine as fiddles, and this question becomes irrelevant. Any other scenario, however, could put the Ravens at a huge disadvantage.

Posted in Hot Take of the Week

The Baltimore Ravens and the year of incredible resilience

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens will be without Ronnie Stanley for the rest of the season. It has been reported that Stanley has had season-ending surgery. Let’s talk about this first, then let’s talk about why it just adds to the year of incredible resilience this team is having. First things first: Where does this leave the Baltimore Ravens on the offensive line?

First of all, this is heartbreaking news. Stanley is one of the leaders of the Baltimore Ravens. He’s one of the best left tackles in football and seeing him sidelined for an entire season is rough. As disappointing as this is for Stanley and the Ravens, this is Baltimore’s year of resilience. The show must go on.

The Status Quo stays intact

The bright side here is that the Ravens don’t have to change the status quo of the offensive line. Alejandro Villanueva can stay at left tackle where he is most comfortable. Pat Mekari can stay at right tackle. Would the Ravens be better with Ronnie Stanley at left tackle? Sure, his value can’t be truly replaced. The thing is that Villanueva would have a bit of a drop-off on the right side.

If Stanley was going to return the Ravens would have a tough decision to make. It would almost be more appealing to leave Mekari at the right tackle position and to have Villanueva be the swing tackle. We saw how much Villanueva struggled in the season opener, playing on the right side of the offensive line. While he hasn’t played at a Pro Bowl level at either position, at the left tackle spot Villanueva has been a stable presence.

The Ravens have gotten Tyre Phillips back from injured reserve. Phillips looks to be more of a guard than a tackle. According to reports the Ravens have signed James Carpenter, a 32-year-old guard with plenty of experience, to the practice squad. The Ravens also signed an offensive tackle off waivers, Brandon Knight. Knight was with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent from 2019 until he got released this season.

It is likely a wise move to take shots on extra reinforcement for the offensive line. Baltimore spent most of the season waiting for their Pro Bowl left tackle to return. Now that he’s not returning, every bit of help the offensive line can get could be helpful.

Unbelievable injury misfortune:

The list of players currently on injured reserve is almost shocking. The Ravens have the following notable players on the list:

  • Ronnie Stanley
  • Nick Boyle
  • Ben Cleveland
  • Derek Wolfe
  • Daelin Hayes
  • Marcus Peters
  • Gus Edwards
  • J.K. Dobbins
  • Justice Hill
  • L.J. Fort
  • Chris Westry

When you look at this list it’s almost easy to forget that the Ravens are currently the top team in the AFC Standings. The purple and black are 5-1. If you have the Ravens back just a healthy Ronnie Stanley, J.K. Dobbins, and Marcus Peters this achievement would have been massively easier. The Ravens may have had an undefeated 6-0 start to the year.

Lamar Jackson is currently an MVP candidate. He’s led two comebacks in the fourth quarter. He’s been on fire all season long. The Ravens just crushed the daylights out of the number two team in the AFC, the Los Angeles Chargers. While plenty of players have stepped up, life shouldn’t be this good. On paper, the Baltimore Ravens adversity should have had more of an impact on their record.

The Ravens aren’t just beating up on bad teams. Sure, they got wins against the winless Detroit Lions and the now slumping Denver Broncos; yet they also beat the reigning AFC Champions the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Chargers. Since falling in the season opener, every time it looked like a loss was coming, the Baltimore Ravens found a way to win the game.

Ravens are putting on a master class in leadership:

The Baltimore Ravens are a well-coached team. Without an experienced coach like John Harbaugh, several of these losses to injuries could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Harbaugh has gotten the Ravens ready for each test. The Ravens had the training camp from hell, with bad news piled up high before the opening kick-off. Pundits were saying that the Ravens were limping into the season and many fans had bad memories of 2015.

The Ravens are getting used to doing things that have never been done before. A lot of that has to do with Lamar Jackson being a special quarterback. This kind of a season couldn’t have been expected though, John Harbaugh has to be working towards his second AP NFL Coach of the Year Award. No coach has dealt with more this season and Harbaugh hasn’t allowed excuses any step of the way.

Speaking of Lamar Jackson, he’s an incredible leader. More than any other quarterback, Jackson carries it all on his shoulders. He knows that he has to not only be the best player on the field but the reason the Ravens win games. He’s a leader by example. When something goes bad he blames himself and puts the burden of overcoming those mistakes on himself. After the Colts game, he stated that he felt he owed it to the team. That’s the mindset we’re talking about here.

The team loves Jackson and Jackson gives nothing but positivity. He never points fingers and he never gets in anyone’s face. Jackson has a relationship with this team that makes the team better. There’s not one player who wouldn’t run through a wall for him, because they know Jackson would do anything for the team. Jackson is playing at an MVP level but he’s showing leadership and stewardship of this team. He’s the emotional battery charger of this team and the hardest worker.

The Ravens are leading the pack and getting better:

It’s important to remember that the leadership of this team extends past the head coach and the quarterback. Calais Campbell, Marlon Humphrey, and Chuck Clark are excellent leaders on the defense. Don Martindale fits in with the Ravens as the defensive coordinator perfectly, and he has a lot of influence on the players.

When you look at what the Ravens just did to the Los Angeles Chargers you have to be amazed. The Ravens who lost to the Raiders in the first week of the season couldn’t have done that. The Ravens are starting to figure everything out. They’ve gone through the wringer and they’ve done it while they’ve won all but six games. The Ravens are hot and they may not have even peaked yet.

It all started against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens got past some mental kryptonite when they won that game. They got a comeback win. They put up 36 on the Chiefs, staying true to themselves and never panicking. It was on that night that the year of resilience was born. That goes beyond the x’s and o’s of it all. That goes to the core of the team’s identity. They made a choice that they would be a good team this year no matter what.

NEXT POST: 7 Baltimore Ravens lessons from huge win over the Chargers

The Baltimore Ravens are the top team in the AFC. Somehow, someway, the Ravens have gotten there. Betting against the Ravens is starting to look like a foolish practice. The odds haven’t seemed to matter much to the Baltimore Ravens, the most resilient team in football.


Posted in Hot Take of the Week

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs: The psychology of the game

By Chris Schisler 

The Baltimore Ravens can beat the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s possible. The Chiefs aren’t infallible and the Ravens might be 0-1 but they’re not the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s somewhere in the range of possibilities even if you shouldn’t bet money on it. You 100 percent should not put money on it. 

Things seem to stack against the Baltimore Ravens here. They just had a rotten opener with problems in the secondary and the offensive line being the top culprits. The Ravens are banged up early in the season and won’t be at full strength probably until the first quarter of the season is in the books. Please keep in mind that full strength isn’t what full strength was supposed to be anymore. On top of that, the Chiefs are the Chiefs and they have the Ravens’ number.

The big key here is the Ravens putting their best foot forward. There are no moral victories, however, if they do indeed lose, the way it happens matters. If John Harbaugh is going to start out 0-2 it better come with some progress.

The Ravens need to go into this game trying to win. They have to play a completely different brand of football than they showed their first national audience on Monday. This game offers the Ravens a test of character and heart. Do they curl up and give in, or do they fight back and desperately try to kick themselves out of a corner. The psychology of the game puts every single ounce of pressure on the Baltimore Ravens.

In addition to testing the resolve of the purple and black, this is a great game to catch the top team in the AFC by surprise. Before all the injuries the Ravens were considered viable Super Bowl contenders. The circumstances of this game could be building a false David vs Goliath dichotomy. It’s a night game, fans are back, and the Ravens have a ton of talent that didn’t go away.

A slow start for the Ravens could be a death sentence to their chances. The Ravens have developed a pattern of falling apart against the Chiefs. Panic mode is good for mistakes and compounding problems that get the game out of hand. The Ravens need to start strong. The more rounds they can go toe to toe with the Chiefs, the more confidence is they’ll have. The Ravens have to make themselves believers during the course of this game. If it’s close, if there’s a chance of seeing a victory, it could really propel the crowd and the team.

The Baltimore Ravens have issues on top of issues

Lamar Jackson has to recover from his two fumble ending to the Raiders game. He has to keep himself grounded because his emotions and his want to do it all could bite him in this game. With the injuries to the Ravens, Jackson really has to do an unfair amount of the heavy lifting. Jackson has no choice but to try to have another MVP season. 

The offensive line needs to just find a way to make this work. They have problems you don’t solve in a week. Mentally they have to be prepared to overcome it all. Now it has been reported by Jason La Canfora that the Ravens will be without Ronnie Stanley against the Chiefs. A struggling offensive line is now without their top player. It doesn’t have to be pretty- there’s almost no way it can be. The Ravens just have to scrape together enough blocking to make this offense functional. 

Get ready for Alejandro Villanueva on the left side and Patrick Mekari at right tackle. Get ready to be at least a medium level of frustrated by this while you watch the game. 

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler has reported that Chris Westry is out with a torn meniscus. Don Martindale and the defense need to find answers and clarity heading into this battle. Jimmy Smith needs to get healthy and ready quickly. Tavon Young has to see if he can stay healthy, and he needs to knock off some rust from missing so much football.

Martindale has to have a clear plan. One thing is for sure he can’t depend on his cornerbacks to play lockdown coverage across the board, he has to adjust and call a masterful game just to keep Baltimore in it. 

There’s a lot of work to do and a lot of it is just having the team be mentally prepared and composed for week 2. Bad luck has come and it hasn’t let up since they lost J.K. Dobbins. With today’s reported injuries added to the list, it takes a lot of deep breaths to realize the season isn’t over/ If you feel like it is though, as a Ravens fan I’m not judging you. This is tough and it’s a difficult road to start on this early. 

The Ravens Flock won’t need much to get rocking. When you consider the passion of the fanbase and the fact that there were no crowds last season, people will be eager to get back to the stadium. Still, things could go sour quickly. The fans are eager to go back to games yet this shouldn’t be mistaken for patience. The Ravens need to try to give the fans a night they’ll never forget. They need to attempt making this bigger than a game, they need to make this a moment.

With an 0-1 record and the entire football world practically locked in on the Chiefs, a win would be the regular season equivalent of the Mile High Miracle. It’s a big game in a tough spot against a juggernaut of a team. If the Ravens win this game it would go down in Ravens’ lure along with games like the 2003 comeback against the Seattle Seahawks and the 47-42 win over the Browns last year.

The Bottom Line: 

This wouldn’t be just any other win for the Ravens. As big as the moment is it’s important not to get too high or too low. A win would only reach this momentous meaning because of how hard it would be for this injury-plagued Ravens team. That win is possible, a loss seems more likely. Far more likely. Injuries have taken so much from this team. 

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Keeping perspective after rough loss to Raiders

Baltimore must leave Sunday with at least a silver lining of hope. What they can’t do is panic, crumble and let the train fall off the tracks after two games. It’s an emotionally burdensome place for fans to be. The coaches have the unenviable task of finding answers in a hurry. Emotions and psychology play a bigger role in the game than usual. How gritty can this team be? They have to dig deeper than ever before just to get by. When this game is over, we’ll know what kind of heart this team has. 

Posted in Ashley's 3 big questions

Baltimore Ravens: Three Big Questions on the Offensive Line

By: Ashley Anderson

No Baltimore Ravens position group has undergone more changes this offseason than the offensive line. From the departure of Orlando Brown Jr. to the additions of Kevin Zeitler, Alejandro Villanueva, and Ben Cleveland, the personnel shake-up is eye-popping. Throw in a position change from Bradley Bozeman and the return of Ronnie Stanley from a serious ankle injury, and there is plenty of intrigue with this crew.

3.) How will Alejandro Villanueva handle switching from left to right tackle?

When the Ravens acquired Alejandro Villanueva to shore up the hole left by Orlando Brown Jr., they knew they would be requiring the 32-year-old to switch sides in more ways than one. Not only did they steal him away from a division rival, but they were also moving him from left to right tackle. Villanueva, who served two tours with the Army in Afghanistan, has been through tougher.

As a left tackle, Villanueva is a two-time Pro Bowler. His durability has been tip-top, starting 91-straight contests for Pittsburgh. Although he experienced a bit of a drop-off in play last season, that was partially due to how often the Steelers were passing the ball. Baltimore employs an entirely different scheme with more focus on the run. Their quarterback is also significantly more mobile.

The biggest question is how well Villanueva will handle the transition to the opposite side of the line. Oftentimes, players have experience in multiple positions, making the switch a bit easier. With Villanueva, the last time he played a different spot was in 2015 when he was used as a swing tackle.

Still, there seems to be less pressure on right tackles in the NFL. A move away from the blindside could be the refresher Villanueva’s career needs. Either way, he is an elder statesman on the line, and the Ravens will look to him to fill a leadership role.

2.) Will Bradley Bozeman clean up the snap issues that plagued the Baltimore Ravens in 2020?

Let me start by saying this was a huge question before the Ravens even began training camp. However, following a rough first day of practice where Bozeman was cited for multiple poor snaps, fans were already burying their faces in their hands. A bad snap in Baltimore’s offense completely throws off the very complex timing of their plays. In short, they can ill afford for it to happen.

In fairness to Bozeman, that was his first practice at center with a live audience of fans. During OTAs, things seemed to be a bit less exciting, which is how they should be. Bozeman is also playing center again for the first time since 2018, so he deserves a bit of slack.

One thing that seemed to improve Bozeman’s snaps was switching from a full glove to a half glove. For some players, a simple equipment change can make all the difference. Training camp is the time to work out those glitches before taking on live opponents. Since adjusting, he appears to have bounced back and performed well.

Lamar Jackson’s return to practice should help answer even more questions. Jackson’s cadence is obviously different from Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley. Bozeman will need to develop timing and chemistry quickly with Jackson to be successful.

1.) When will Ronnie Stanley return for the Baltimore Ravens

Without a doubt, this is the biggest question looming over the offensive line. Losing an All-Pro left tackle who is considered one of if not the best in the league would be insurmountable for most teams. The Ravens managed to make the playoffs after Stanley went down with a major ankle injury in Week 8 last season. Still, their line was badly weakened.

Initially, reports were that Stanley would be back in time for training camp. Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated the plan was always for Stanley to miss OTAs and minicamp. However, they expected his return in late July. As of this publication, he has yet to emerge.

The Ravens are gearing up for their first preseason game on August 14th against the New Orleans Saints, but it seems unlikely Stanley will be among those in uniform. It is a bit early to have serious concerns, yet fans will not feel better till they see number 79 lined up on Lamar Jackson’s blindside. As the anchor of a newly minted offensive line, there is a lot of responsibility on Stanley’s shoulders.

NEXT POST: John Harbaugh vs. Mike Tomlin: Who is the better coach

Of course, Baltimore’s training staff want to make sure Stanley is fully healed to avoid the risk of re-injury. It would do them no good to rush things and have complications. Surely, Stanley is pushing to return as soon as possible to make good on the five-year, $98.75 million extension he signed just days before suffering the injury. For now, everyone is waiting with bated breath till he returns.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: Looking at offensive line depth

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.

Guard: A

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.

Center: A

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.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens salary cap: Strategy or coincidence?

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.

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.