“The Competition” is a series that breaks down every position battle leading up to training camp.
The Ravens inked Monroe to a new five-year contract this offseason, locking down their left tackle of the present and future. Monroe is exactly what the Ravens are looking for, and the long-term solution they’ve been lacking since Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden retired. Monroe is athletic, hard-working and reliable. Last year, he graded out as the league’s 12th-best tackle, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), and should be even better with a year in Baltimore under his belt.
Wagner is heading into a big second season. As a fifth-round rookie out of offensive tackle powerhouse Wisconsin, he got limited time in the Ravens’ jumbo packages last season. He struggled early on when thrown in with the starters in Denver, but improved as he went along and gained a better understanding of the system. He’s known more for his strength and good length than quick feet.
The former second-round pick has yet to make a big impact on the field. He started seven games in 2012, but was a backup last season. Reid has the ability. He’s big and athletic. But he’s got to put it all together and earn a bigger role. Injuries over the past couple years have hampered him in that effort. A calf injury held him out of most organized team activities (OTAs) and all of minicamp this offseason.
Jensen is shorter than the other options, but he’s a big, sturdy blocker with upside since coming out of small-school Colorado State-Pueblo. Sidelined for the majority of last season with a foot injury, Jensen impressed coaches enough last summer that they kept him on the active 53-man roster for the entire year, even though he never suited up. Jensen is a brawler who got into a scuffle during OTAs. He can also play all three positions: tackle, guard and center.
Mims was on the Ravens’ practice squad last year. The former Virginia Union prospect is a developmental player. He’s certainly got the size, but Mims has to impress when running with the second and third teams if he’s going to have a chance.
Hurst likely would have been a draft pick had he not broken his leg during his senior season. That sent him tumbling out of the draft, but the Ravens plucked him and he became one of their most-hyped free-agent signings. He was ready to play at the start of rookie camp and impressed then, but had more difficulty once the veterans arrived. Hurst is a solid blocker and four-year starter at left tackle. The North Carolina product was a first-team All-ACC honoree.
Graham appeared in 41 career games (31 starts) for Oklahoma State, taking over starting duties during the second half of his sophomore season. He started every game as a senior – the first five games at left tackle and the final eight at right guard – and did not allow a sack en route to earning first-team All-Big 12 honors. Graham has excellent size and length.
Van Sloten is more of a pure right tackle prospect. He appeared in 48 career games at Iowa, making 25-consecutive starts at right tackle over his last two seasons. He was named an Academic All-Big Ten honoree in each of his four years with the Hawkeyes and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors by the league’s coaches as a senior.
The starting left tackle job is locked up by Monroe, so it’s only a competition on the right side.
Wagner is the leader after OTAs and minicamp, as he took every snap with the first-team offense. New Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak put a lot on Wagner’s plate and came away saying he was “very pleased.”
If Wagner were to slip up, he’s got two challengers in Jensen and Reid. Reid was more in the mix before his calf injury, and now may have fallen behind the smaller Jensen, who coaches have taken notice of. The competition between the three players will rage into training camp.
If the Ravens aren’t comfortable with any of the three, they could move