Ranking all 32 NFL offensive line units ahead of the 2021 season – Steve Palazzolo
12. BALTIMORE RAVENS
The Ravens’ offensive linemen combined for the third-best overall grade in 2019, but the group dropped off to just 23rd last season. Losing starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley to injury was a big part of that decline, as he played only 312 snaps on the year. Stanley has developed into one of the best pass protectors in the game, grading out at 92.8 in 2019 and 91.0 last season. He’s less effective as a run blocker, but he’s recorded a 65.0 grade or better in every year since entering the league in 2016.
Baltimore traded former starting right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason, and the team waited until after the draft to replace him with free agent tackle Alejandro Villanueva. Villanueva has played left tackle his entire career, so it will be an adjustment moving to the right side. He’s been the model of consistency at the position, grading between 74.0 and 81.2 in each of his past five years while never grading below 77.0 as a pass blocker during that time.
The interior of the Ravens’ offensive line was a weakness in 2020, but they have a potential big upgrade at right guard in Kevin Zeitler. He’s coming off the worst season of his career, but he graded between 73.0 and 89.0 in every season since 2012. Heading into his 10th season, Zeitler has historically been a solid run blocker and an excellent pass protector. It’s worth the risk for Baltimore to see if he can get back to previous form.
Bradley Bozeman returns to start at left guard after posting a 63.4 grade in 2019, 36th among guards, and a 64.3 grade in 2020, good for 41st. The Ravens used three different starting centers last year, including Patrick Mekari, who topped the list with a 66.9 overall grade. He returns as the starter in 2020 after doing his best work in pass protection, surrendering only eight pressures on 275 attempts en route to an 86.5 such grade that ranked second in the league.
The Ravens have a solid all-around offensive line, but they need a smooth transition from Villanueva and improved play on the interior in order to move up the rankings.
James is signing a two-year, $3.5 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The deal includes an additional $5 million in incentives, but only $500,000 of it is guaranteed in the form of a signing bonus. James will also receive an additional $500,000 via a roster bonus in March if he’s still on the team.
When healthy, James was productive enough to fetch a four-year, $51 million deal from the Denver Broncos in 2019.
21. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Much of the Ravens’ pass-rushing success in recent years has been a function of scheme rather than individual talent. And Baltimore lost two of its best individual pass rushers — Yannick Ngakoue and Matthew Judon — in free agency this offseason.
The trio of Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe on the interior is an impressive collection of run-stuffers, though. All three ranked in the 83rd percentile or better at the position in run-defense grade last season.
Ravens OLB Jaylon Ferguson in ‘Great Shape,’ But Needs to Produce – Todd Karpovich
The third-year player from Louisiana Tech needs to have more production to guarantee his future with Baltimore.
The Ravens are bullish on Ferguson heading into the training camp.
“The thing I’m most excited about with Jaylon is how he’s in such great shape right now, and he really has a grasp of the playbook that he hasn’t had the last two years,” outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins said. “It’s just every year, he’s getting sharper and sharper with it, to the point now where he really is telling the young guys what to do, which is exciting to see – a guy take that leap to that point. And he’s running to the football, he’s playing with great effort. He’s really checking all the boxes right now for us.”
Ferguson, who was selected by the Ravens in their round (85th overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft, has amassed just 4.5 sacks over his career.
The Ravens selected a pair of edge rushers — Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes — in this year’s draft and both players will be pushing for playing time.
Ravens Agree to Two-Year Extension With Gus Edwards – Clifton Brown
Baltimore and Edwards have reached agreement on a two-year contract extension that keeps him under contract through 2023. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the two-year deal is for $10 million.
Edwards has been a valuable running back during his three seasons in Baltimore, averaging 5.2 yards per carry with 10 career rushing touchdowns.
“He is a Raven,” DeCosta said. “He played his butt off this year, and he had a good season for us.”