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The Competition: Offensive Line

Posted Jul 3, 2013

The competition is at center with much of the rest of the line penciled into place.

“The Competition” is a BaltimoreRavens.com series that breaks down every position battle leading up to training camp.

 

Returning Players

 T Bryant McKinnie (6-foot-8, 360 pounds, 12th season): McKinnie was re-signed this offseason for two years, and is in position to be the Ravens’ starting left tackle – the same position he locked up during last year’s playoff run. McKinnie was a full participant during the team’s offseason and says he’s in much better shape than the year before, when he started on the bench. 

G/T Kelechi Osemele (6-5, 333, second season): A second-round pick a year ago, Osemele quickly became an entrenched starter on the Ravens line. He played most of the season at right tackle, then shifted to left guard for the playoffs. While he was solid at tackle, he dominated at guard and said he feels most comfortable there heading into this season. 

G/C Gino Gradkowski (6-3, 300, second season): With the retirement of Matt Birk, Gradkowski steps into the lead to start at center. The former fourth-round pick didn’t see much offensive action last year, but has picked up the offense well this offseason and gelled with quarterback Joe Flacco. Gradkowski draws high praise for his smarts and grittiness. 

G/T: Marshal Yanda (6-3, 315, seventh season): A back-to-back Pro Bowler, Yanda has turned into one of the best guards in the league. He didn’t allow a single sack last season. Yanda is a physical, tough blocker who in many ways anchors the Ravens line. 

T Michael Oher (6-4, 315, fifth season): Oher is in line to flip back to right tackle this season. He has yet to play back-to-back seasons on the same side, and more stability could help him take the next step. Oher also may be best suited for the right side, where he exceled during the playoffs. 

T Jah Reid (6-7, 335, third season): Reid has been plagued by injuries, including a toe injury that knocked him out of last year’s playoffs. Before that, he was Baltimore’s starting left guard. Reid has plenty of athletic potential and excellent size, but has yet to take the next step in his development. He’s currently in a position of being perhaps the first lineman off the bench. 

T Ramon Harewood (6-6, 340, fourth season): A former project, Harewood developed into a starter at guard at the beginning of last season. He lost his grip on the starting gig after five games and was active just once more the rest of the year. Harewood must continue to polish his game. 

G/T Jack Cornell (6-6, 315, second season): An undrafted rookie out of Illinois, Cornell excelled last offseason and earned a spot on the Ravens practice squad. Cornell has good size and some position flexibility. 

G Antoine McClain (6-5, 329, first season): McClain signed as a rookie free agent last season out of Clemson and spent the year on the practice squad. He’s a backup lineman with good size.

Newcomers 

C A.Q. Shipley (6-1, 309, second season): The Ravens traded for Shipley in early May, bolstering the competition at center and at least adding depth to the interior of the offensive line. Shipley received high grades in his five starts with Indianapolis last year. He’s smaller than Gradkowski, but feels his smaller frame helps him with leverage. 

T David Mims (6-8, 320, first season): The Ravens signed Mims to a future-reserve contract in January. He was on Kansas City’s active roster for five games as a rookie last season. The Ravens showed interest in the massive blocker before the 2012 draft. 

C Reggie Stephens (6-3, 320, first season): Stephens was originally drafted by the Bengals in 2010 but not activated for a game. He was on four teams’ practice squads in 2011 and 2012 before the Ravens signed him to their practice squad in January of 2013. He’s Baltimore’s biggest center.

Rookies 

G/T Rick Wagner (6-6, 308, fifth round): He’s another Wisconsin lineman, meaning he’s gritty, smart and big. Wagner, nicknamed “Wags” already, impressed McKinnie during minicamp. He played mostly at tackle and could be an eventual offensive contributor. 

C Ryan Jensen (6-3, 304, sixth round): The small-school prospect from Colorado State-Pueblo has a fairly giant leap to the NFL level. But he’s got the size and skills to convert and contend with Gradkowski and Shipley. 

T Jordan Devey (6-6, 300, undrafted): Devey reportedly received one of the Ravens’ highest signing bonuses for undrafted rookies. He started all 24 games of his two-year career with the Memphis Tigers and played every snap. He started at left guard in the East-West Shrine Game. 

T Rogers Gaines (6-7, 334, undrafted): The massive Tennessee State tackle earned first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors. He led the Tigers with an average of six “pancake” blocks per game. 

T Joe Unga (6-8, 320, undrafted): The Midwestern State prospect is the biggest of the rookies. He started nine games at right tackle last year, earning first-team All-Lone Star Conference honors. His college offensive line led Division II by allowing just four sacks in 11 games. 

Frontrunners

Before the Ravens re-signed McKinnie, it looked as if Osemele was going to left tackle and Oher to right tackle. But since he re-signed, McKinnie was exclusively with the first-team offense throughout Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp, bumping Oher to the right side and Osemele more into his natural position at guard. 

If McKinnie can maintain the starting left tackle spot, something he failed to do last year, the Ravens offensive line falls into place. If not, Baltimore will once again have to shuffle the deck. 

The main competition is at center, where it looks to be Gradkowski’s job to lose. The Ravens drafted him to be Birk’s successor, and he’s done nothing to show otherwise. Still, Baltimore brought in a very capable challenger in Shipley, who will push Gradkowski in training camp. 

Behind the penciled-in starters, there is a lot of competition for backup spots as the Ravens have more depth and youth this season than in years past. Shipley, Wagner, Jensen and others will contend inside while Reid, Harewood and rookies battle for top backup tackle spots.

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