In an attempt to reignite some kind of consistent running game, the Baltimore Ravens are looking to change the profile of the kind of offensive linemen they want to employ.
“If we’re going to improve offensively, I think it starts up front,” Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said last week. ” “We have to get more physical as an offensive line.”
That’s a change away from the relatively smaller but quicker linemen which former OL/Running Game coordinator Juan Castillo preferred to use in his zone-blocking stretch-run assignments. Castillo has left the Ravens to coach the O-Line in Buffalo.
The Ravens will go with bigger, more physical players, and more of a one-on-one blocking scheme, which would alter the types of prospects they target in the draft or free agency.
“I think what we’re looking for are good football players,” DeCosta said. “If the guy is a really good athlete, a special athlete, and a really good player, then we can work with him. If a guy is a big, massive, point-of-attack mauler, and a really good football player, we can work with him.”
Center Jeremy Zuttah (6-foot-4, 300 pounds) has been criticized by many as too small—as funny as that may sound to we average-sized people!—but in fact Zuttah was at times getting mauled by the bigger defensive nose tackles and guards in the AFC. Zuttah, right guard Marshal Yanda, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and left guard Alex Lewis are all under contract for next season. The only starter slated to become a free agent is right tackle Rick Wagner.
I suspect that Zuttah will be released or traded, and that Rick Wagner will be lost to free agency. That would leave two starting positions open, and at least two more swing line/backup positions up for grabs.
“The key is having a smart, tough, aggressive athlete who knows how to play the game of football, who is durable, and has the right mentality to fit the Ravens,” DeCosta said. Reading between the lines there, the Ravens are in the market for a proven big veteran center who fits the new run-blocking scheme, and likewise a veteran right tackle. The upcoming draft for the Ravens will seek out big overpowering prospects as well to create competition and build depth on the O-Line.