The Baltimore Ravens led the NFL with a 14-2 record last season, in large part due to their record-setting offense. The NFL had never seen a rushing attack like the Ravens, led by dynamic quarterback Lamar Jackson. A large part of the teams success can be attributed to a top-tier offensive line, but the interior of the line is much changed in 2020.
Future hall-of fame guard Marshal Yanda retired in the off-season, and he leaves behind a giant hole in this offensive line. The interior has some experience, but has a lot of young players with potential. The interior will look a lot different in 2020, so just who are the contenders to play this year.
D.J Fluker: The Yanda Replacement on the Interior
The early favourite to replace Yanda at right guard is D.J Fluker. The seven-year vet was recently signed by the Ravens, after being released by the Seattle Seahawks. Fluker is a former first-round pick but has yet to live up to that selection so far. He’s already transitioned from tackle to guard, and has years of experience at the position.
Fluker would also bring some experience to a young offensive line, an invaluable trait to have in the NFL. He’s signed to a one-year veteran minimum contract, so his play will dictate whether he stays past the 2020 season. With so many young players pushing for playing time, there’s a good chance he could be replaced for the 2021 season.
Bradley Bozeman: The Quick Learner on This Line
Bradley Bozeman has been a pleasant surprise for the Ravens. Since being drafted in the sixth-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, he’s earned a role on this offensive line. He started every game of the 2019 season at left guard, helping give some continuity on the interior offensive line.
Bozeman has played well in Baltimore, only allowing four sacks and giving up six penalties for the season. With another year of experience this number should decrease. Bozeman has outplayed his draft placing and is in-line for a long career with the Ravens if he continues on this trajectory.
The Young Candidates Pushing For Interior O-Line Playing Time
The Ravens have invested a lot of recent draft capital on the offensive line, so they have some promising young players pushing to start. Baltimore used a fourth-round pick on guard Ben Powers in 2019, but rarely played last season. His only playing time came in the week 17 win against the Steelers, as many starters were rested for the play-offs. Expect him to earn a larger role this season.
They also used a fourth-round pick this year to select a guard, Ben Bredeson from Michigan. Despite being a rookie, many have suggested he is pro-ready in year one. He was a four-year starter at guard for the Wolverines, and has the size the Ravens covet. A truncated pre-season could hinder Bredeson, but everything suggests he can make an early impact for the Ravens.
Who Will Win the Starting Center Job?
The biggest question mark on the Ravens offensive line is at center, with two players pushing to earn the starting job. Matt Skura had been the starting center for the past two seasons, before a knee-injury in week 12 last season ended his year. He’s played at a good level for the Ravens, but he’s coming back from a torn ACL,MCL and PCL along with a dislocated knee-cap. If he can return from this serious injury and play at his previous level, expect him to win the job.
Patrick Mekari is another undrafted free agent steal by the Ravens. He went undrafted last year, but stepped in to replace Skura at center for the last portion of the season. He played well in relief of Skura, even earning a higher PFF grade. This is especially impressing as he is a guard, not a center. If Skura’s recovery doesn’t go to plan or if he play has suffered expect Mekari to get the nod for week one.
The Players Fighting to Make the Roster
Will Holden and R.J Prince were both practice squad players in 2019, but have signed future/reserve contracts for the 2020 season. Many players have graduated from the Ravens practice squad to the active roster, and both have multiple years of experience in the NFL.
Of the 2020 undrafted free agent class, centers Trystan Colon-Castillo and Sean Pollard are the most likely to make the team heading into training camp. Both have extensive college experience, and both can help provide positional depth at center. With Skura recovering from injury and Mekari not having masses of experience, both can feel confident they can make the team.
Guards Daishawn Dixon and Evan Adams may find it tougher to make the team. The Ravens have a lot of talented young players to play both guard positions, who also provide excellent positional depth. This makes their path to the active roster much harder, especially as with good positional versatility the Ravens are likely to take less offensive linemen. Both have extensive college experience, but will need to impress in training camp to have a chance. A stint on the practice squad could help both players.
That wraps up this recap of the Ravens players and depth on the interior offensive line. Let us know your thoughts on this in the comment section below. Be sure to check out the site home page here, and the NFL news page here for the latest sports stories. Check out the site forum page here for great sports discussion. Follow the site on Twitter @OTH_Football.
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