How did Ravens offensive linemen stack up to rest of NFL in 2020?

0
22

The Ravens qualified for the postseason for the third straight year and registered their first playoff victory in six years, but where did their individual players stack up across the NFL in such an unusual 2020 campaign?

Whether it’s discussing the Pro Bowl or handing out postseason honors, media and fans spend much time discussing where players rank at any given position, but very few watch every player on every team closely enough to develop opinions as informed as we’d like to believe.

Truthfully, how many times did you watch the Detroit Lions linebackers this season? What about the Las Vegas Raiders offensive line? And the Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks?

That’s why I respect the efforts of Pro Football Focus while admitting their grades are hardly the gospel of player assessment. The exhaustive effort to evaluate players across the league shouldn’t be dismissed when most of us watch one team or maybe one division closely on any kind of a regular basis.

We’ll look at each positional group on the Baltimore roster in the coming days, but below is a look at where Ravens offensive linemen stacked up across the NFL this past season followed by a positional outlook going into 2021:

Safeties
Tight ends
Defensive linemen
Running backs
Inside linebackers

Orlando Brown Jr.
2020 offensive snap count: 1,026
PFF ranking: 24th out of 79 qualified offensive tackles
2021 Week 1 age: 25
Skinny: Brown has been the NFL’s fifth-most valuable offensive tackle since the start of 2018 using PFF’s wins above replacement metric, showing the ability to play both tackle spots at a high level. Given the injury disruptions for an offensive line that was already sorely missing the retired Marshal Yanda, Brown was arguably Baltimore’s most valuable player not named Lamar Jackson in 2020. His status and desire to be traded to a team that will play him at left tackle will be one of the defining stories of the offseason.

Ronnie Stanley
2020 offensive snap count: 312
PFF ranking: n/a
2021 Week 1 age: 27
Skinny: The 2019 All-Pro selection was in the midst of another strong campaign and had just signed a five-year, $98.75 million contract extension before a serious left ankle injury ended his season in Week 8. His healthy return to playing at a high level is an absolute must for the Ravens to maximize their Super Bowl chances, especially if Brown is dealt.

Bradley Bozeman
2020 offensive snap count: 1,016
PFF ranking: 40th out of 80 qualified guards
2021 Week 1 age: 26
Skinny: Despite little fanfare, Bozeman has started every game and played nearly every snap at left guard over the last two seasons, dependability that shouldn’t be taken for granted. With the interior offensive line in a state of uncertainty this offseason, the 2018 sixth-round pick appears to be the only sure bet to start somewhere in the final year of his rookie contract.

Matt Skura
2020 offensive snap count: 661
PFF ranking: 34th out of 36 qualified centers
2021 Week 1 age: 28
Skinny: The veteran’s Week 1 return from a serious knee injury sustained in late November of 2019 was a good story, but Skura struggled to regain his previous form and eventually lost his starting job as his shotgun snaps became a significant problem. After making 51 starts over the last four seasons, the pending free agent is likely poised for a fresh start elsewhere.

Patrick Mekari
2020 offensive snap count: 553
PFF ranking: 22nd out of 36 qualified centers
2021 Week 1 age: 24
Skinny: Though Mekari outplayed Skura upon taking over as the starting center, his snaps also became a big problem and he really struggled in the playoff loss to Buffalo, which isn’t the impression a young player wants to leave entering the offseason. Even if he’s not a starter in 2021, Mekari remains valuable because of his game-day versatility after also seeing snaps at right guard and right tackle last season.

D.J. Fluker
2020 offensive snap count: 531
PFF ranking: 55th out of 79 qualified offensive tackles
2021 Week 1 age: 30
Skinny: After competing to be the starting right guard during training camp, Fluker entered 2020 as the reserve swing tackle and became the primary right tackle after Stanley went down and Brown moved to the left side. The pending free agent held up better than many would have anticipated in his first extensive action at tackle in years, but the Ravens need to aim higher in the event of Brown’s departure.

Ben Powers
2020 offensive snap count: 512
PFF ranking: 54th out of 80 qualified guards
2021 Week 1 age: 24
Skinny: Counting the playoffs, Powers started the final nine games of the season and would be viewed more favorably right now if not for a poor performance against the Bills. The 2019 fourth-round pick remains a candidate to start at right guard, but outside additions and the progress he makes this offseason will be determining factors for his chances.

Tyre Phillips
2020 offensive snap count: 418
PFF ranking: 74th out of 80 qualified guards
2021 Week 1 age: 24
Skinny: Injuries and positional volatility made it difficult to evaluate Phillips over his eight starts and other extensive action, but he had his share of struggles at both right guard and right tackle as a rookie. Much like Powers, the third-round pick’s starting odds will hinge on other potential additions and the work he puts in this spring and summer.

Trystan Colon-Castillo
2020 offensive snap count: 127
PFF ranking: n/a
2021 Week 1 age: 23
Skinny: The undrafted free agent from Missouri was elevated from the practice squad in October as other teams began showing interest, and he played fairly well in his lone two starts. Colon-Castillo may not be “Plan A” at center at this point, but the organization clearly valued keeping him around last season, which speaks to his long-term potential.

Ben Bredeson
2020 offensive snap count: 48
PFF ranking: n/a
2021 Week 1 age: 23
Skinny: Like so many other rookie offensive linemen, Bredeson’s development suffered from the lack of a normal spring and summer, making it difficult to project his 2021 role. Still, the fourth-round pick from Michigan will be a name to watch for the interior line competition this summer.

2021 positional outlook
Offseason talk has centered around improving the passing game, but both Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh have seemingly placed more emphasis on upgrading the offensive line than adding receiving weapons to the roster. Having nine different linemen play at least 100 offensive snaps reflects how turbulent the year was, making it all the more impressive that Baltimore still managed to rush for over 3,000 yards and qualify for a third straight trip to the postseason. However, the Ravens ranked just 25th in pressure rate allowed (34.8 percent of passing snaps) after finishing first in their record-setting 2019 (21.7 percent), according to PFF. Restoring the offensive line to its 2019 level of performance won’t be easy with Brown wishing to be traded, Stanley returning from a significant injury, and a shaky interior line lacking a potential Hall of Famer at right guard. Having leaned so heavily on the draft and offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris to address this group in recent years, the Ravens targeting a veteran free agent such as All-Pro center Corey Linsley or guard Joe Thuney seems much more likely with multiple positions in question.