60% is not good.
In school, it means passing by the hairs on your chinny chin chin.
When it comes to the offensive line of the Ravens, it means the percentage of spots locked up by a proven player: three out of five. Even then, it’s a generous mark; while Eugene Monroe and Marshal Yanda are bona fide starters in the NFL, the third proven starter—Kelechi Osemele—is coming off of a major back surgery.
If Osemele is able to come back healthy for the 2014 season, the Ravens will be solidified at left tackle, left guard, and right guard. While Joe Flacco’s blindside should now be protected, two unsung positions are left wide open: center and right tackle. Both spots are instrumental in different ways: the center is looked at as the anchor and signal-caller of the offensive line, while the right tackle is usually a stout run-blocker who can open up holes on the strong side for the running back.
With Gino Gradkowski coming off of an underwhelming 2013 season and Michael Oher shipping off to the Titans in free agency, expect wide-open competitions at each position. There are in-house candidates for both of these spots—Ryan Jensen at center and Rick Wagner at right tackle—but I expect both spots to be addressed through free agency and/or the draft.
At center, the hottest commodity on the market is Alex Mack, a former Cleveland Brown. Mack is commonly regarded as one of the best centers is the business, and will be priced as such. I’d love to have Mack step right in and bolster this offensive line, but I don’t see the Ravens forking up eight figures a year for the two-time Pro Bowler. I see the Ravens holding a training camp competition between Gradkowski and Jensen for the center spot, while possibly drafting a center in the mid-to-late rounds.
At right tackle, as mentioned, the only potential in-house candidate is Rick Wagner. While I think Wagner deserves a chance to compete for the spot, I see him more as a utility offensive lineman that will be used in heavy packages and to provide depth along the front. That being said, I think the Ravens will invest a high draft pick on an offensive tackle.
The last possible option would be to move Osemele to right tackle—as he has experience playing tackle in college and is known for his athleticism—and plugging in a big body at left guard.
Regardless of how the Ravens choose to handle the offensive line, keep an eye out on these battles as the offseason progresses. Here’s to hoping the competition forces someone to step up and take over the reins.