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Alex Lewis A 'Wild Card' In Offensive Line Competition


The Ravens have two holes on their offensive line, and one player who could potentially fill either.

Head Coach John Harbaugh talked about the team's view on the current state of the offensive line at Tuesday's NFL league meetings, and said he sees second-year offensive lineman Alex Lewis as a key piece of the puzzle.

Lewis played left guard and a little left tackle (due to injuries) last season. Harbaugh said he could see Lewis as a possible starting center or right tackle next year.

"We have Alex Lewis as a wild card," Harbaugh said.

"He could play left guard, where he's obviously proven he's furthest along at. But we could move him to center, we could move him to right tackle and find someone else to play guard. We've just got to work our offensive line out, put the best five out there."

A reporter followed up with Harbaugh about the possibility of Lewis at center. It's a position he's never played before, at least in college or the NFL.

"I think he could do it," Harbaugh said. "We'll just have to see. That's what these offseason practices will be for. That will determine that."

The Ravens have expressed their desire to get bigger and more physical at center. They traded starter Jeremy Zuttah to the San Francisco 49ers. Baltimore has John Urschel and Ryan Jensen as experienced options to take over, but the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Lewis would certainly bulk up the position.

Harbaugh spoke highly of Lewis, who was a fourth-round pick out of Nebraska last year and started eight games as a rookie before suffering a late-season ankle injury.

"He got better every week, wants to be a great player," Harbaugh said. "I just like him because he's a big, strong guy who can move his feet, and he can bend. He's smart, he's tough, he loves to play, loves to lift weights. He loves everything about football.

"I think he's going to be a Pro Bowl player down the road. As a matter of fact, he's guaranteed me he's going to be. I'm with him on that one."

The question is at what position.

The other starting spot is at right tackle with the departure of Rick Wagner to the Detroit Lions in free agency.

The Ravens currently have three in-house options with Stephane Nembot, De'Ondre Wesley and James Hurst. Hurst is the most experienced, but Baltimore likes the potential of the two 6-foot-6 towers of Nembot and Wesley. Harbaugh said they will all compete for the starting job.

"That's where we're at right now with the O-line," Harbaugh said. "We've always believed in building in the trenches and having a top-flight offensive line."

The Ravens could still very much address the offensive line in the draft. While the offensive tackle class isn't projected to be particularly strong, there are certainly options. The Ravens could draft a college guard and move him to center as well.

Asked whether he envisions the team being aggressive in drafting linemen in the draft, Harbaugh said, "I think we'll try to be."

"It just depends on how the draft falls," he said. "You just can't predict that."

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