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Late For Work 5/10: What Does A.Q. Shipley Trade Say About Gino Gradkowski?

Posted May 10, 2013

Brown's impact on R. McClain's future. McKinnie’s weight vs. other NFL tackles. Ravens TEs top division.


What Does Shipley Trade Say About Gradkowski?

Head Coach John Harbaugh repeats his philosophy like a broken record.

Every player competes for every position, every year, every game, and every practice.

Until a couple weeks ago, there was no competition at center for second-year player Gino Gradkowski.

Of course Harbaugh and the Ravens had to remedy that. So the team acquired Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Ryan Jensen in the sixth round of last month’s draft, and yesterday they traded a 2014 conditional draft pick to the Indianapolis Colts for backup center A.Q. Shipley.

After the draft, Gradkowski was still the clear frontrunner for the starting post.

Is that still true after the Ravens acquired Shipley – the man Pro Football Focus was going to name a “Secret Superstar” for the Colts after earning a high +6.9 grade in his 476 snaps last year?

Yup, says ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

“Gradkowski still has to be considered the favorite,” Hensley wrote. “The Ravens groomed Gradkowski all last season after he was selected in the fourth round. Shipley provides more experience, but not by much. A seventh-round draft pick by the Steelers in 2009, he was on the practice squads of the Steelers, Eagles and Colts before making an active roster last season. He started five games for Indianapolis last season.”

Do you concur, Matt Vensel?

Yup.

“This shouldn’t be perceived as a sign that the team lacks confidence in Gradkowski, who was drafted out of small-school Delaware in the fourth round of last year’s draft,” The Baltimore Sun blogger wrote. “They are likely giving up a late-round pick [a year] from now just to add Shipley, an NFL journeyman so far, to the mix.”

The Ravens didn’t sacrifice too much to get Shipley in Baltimore. It’s unclear what the conditional 2014 pick will end up being, but as Vensel says, it’s likely to be a late rounder. And Shipley’s reported $480,000 salary isn’t currently expected to have an impact on the cap because it falls outside of the top 51 salaries.

Shipley is believed to play a similar role to Andre Gurode (2011) and Bobbie Williams (2012). Both added a veteran presence at center, and also added depth at guard.

Even though Gradkowski is still considered the favorite, the “fired-up” Shipley is also looking for a starting role and will push Gradkowski for it, just as Harbaugh would hope.

I'm fired up, I really am," Shipley told The Sun. "It's a great opportunity for me. I thought I played well enough as a starter to earn a little respect around the league and get a little buzz. The Ravens get a hard worker with me. I had to work for everything I got my whole life.

"I grew up in Pittsburgh, which is a blue-collar town. I've never let anything stand in my way. I grew up with a chip on my shoulder and I've been pretty successful by working hard, studying, doing everything I can to give myself every possibility to succeed.”

Brown Could Determine R. McClain's Future

Everyone’s still wondering what the Ravens will do with Rolando McClain following his recent arrest, just nine days after signing with Baltimore.

Ravens brass has decided to keep McClain so far, and Hensley believes one player who could have a big impact on McClain’s future is second-round linebacker Arthur Brown.

“If the Ravens keep McClain past his July court date, it looks like they will hold onto him until they feel that Arthur Brown can start,” Hensley told an inquiring fan during an online chat.

But when Brown will be ready is up in the air.

My colleague John Eisenberg says conventional wisdom is that Brown will eventually start, but it’s too soon to say that will happen on Day 1.

“I have no doubt that in Year 2, or pretty soon, he’s going to be a starter and he’s going to be one of the main guys,” Eisenberg said on 105.7 The Fan. “You still have to prove yourself.

“There’s more competition [at linebacker]. I mean, Jameel McClain is there. They fully expect Arthur to start next to him at some point, but who knows what will happen with Rolando McClain… He’s here, and he’s been around this league and has great potential.”

Eisenberg also mentioned 2011’s undrafted free agent linebacker, Josh Bynes, who started three games last year.  In his start at Denver, Bynes recorded a whopping 13 tackles.

“The Ravens’ linebackers; it’s always interesting,” Eisenberg said. “You just don’t know at linebacker how it’s all going to shake out. It’s a little soon to commit to Arthur being in the lineup.”

Comparing McKinnie’s Weight To Other NFL Tackles

After signing his two-year deal with the Ravens earlier this week, left tackle Bryant McKinnie told my colleague Garrett Downing that he agreed to drop lower than last year’s playing weight of 352 pounds.

How does that weight compare to other projected left tackles around the league?

Hensley breaks it all down:

McKinnie is the heaviest – nine pounds heavier than the next in line. He’s also the tallest, standing in at 6-foot-8. The average weight for left tackles today is 320.4 pounds, with four being shorter than 6-5.

Ravens former left tackle Jonathan Ogden was taller than McKinnie (6-9) and lighter (340).

Below are the top five heaviest and lightest left tackles, per Hensley:

5 Heaviest Left Tackles

5 Lightest Tackles

McKinnie, 352 pounds

Saints' Charles Brown, 292 pounds

Bills' Cordy Glenn, 343 pounds

Panthers' Jordan Gross, 305 pounds

Eagles' Jason Peters, 340 pounds

Colts' Anthony Castonzo, 305 pounds

Bengals' Andrew Whitworth, 335 pounds

Buccaneers' Donald Penn, 305 pounds

Chargers' King Dunlap, 330 pounds

Cowboys' Tyron Smith, 308 pounds


The details of McKinnie’s deal have been reported, which include workout and reporting bonuses that should help the 12-year veteran shed pounds.

His two-year contract has a base value of $6.3 million that includes a $2 million bonus and a maximum value of nearly $7 million, according to The Sun’s Aaron Wilson. There are annual workout ($200,000) and reporting bonuses ($200,000).

Ravens Tight Ends Top Division

Hensley continued his AFC North positional rankings, and it’s time for tight ends.

The ESPN blogger believes the Ravens have the best group of tight ends in the division, followed by the Bengals (Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert), Steelers (Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, David Paulson) and Browns (Jordan Cameron, Kellen Davis, Gary Barnidge).

“The loss of wide receiver Anquan Boldin will lead to a monster year for tight end Dennis Pitta,” Hensley wrote. “He is expected to lead the Ravens in receptions and possibly touchdown catches as well. In the final year of his contract, Pitta knows his value increases with a big year.

Ed Dickson, who was drafted a round before Pitta in 2010, had a disappointing regular season last year before playing his best ball during the playoffs. He is only a season removed from catching 51 passes and five touchdowns.”

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