Eisenberg: 50 Words or Less

050821-Eisenberg
T Alejandro Villanueva

Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:

I suppose it's a sign of respect that I'm not concerned about any of the challenges Alejandro Villanueva faces – switching from left to right tackle, learning a new offense, going from a pass-centric to a run-centric offense. I'm not minimizing it, but he's a pro's pro and can handle it.

In terms of helping the Ravens win immediately, Villanueva is a better option than any tackle they could have added via the draft. His age (32) means the Ravens will need to find a younger answer soon, but his track record foretells a solid 2021. No apprenticeship necessary.

With veteran guard Kevin Zeitler starting next to Villanueva, the right side of the Ravens' O-line suddenly is airtight after experiencing its share of upheaval in 2020. But the Ravens have paid for that peace of mind, reportedly investing a combined five contract years worth $36 million in the two.

Interesting that the Ravens immediately signed Villanueva as soon as it didn't cost them a compensatory draft pick, but didn't immediately do the same with a veteran edge defender. They still have time and options, but not much room at the position after drafting Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes.

Mildly surprised to read several draft postmortems suggesting the trade market wasn't especially hot for tackle Orlando Brown Jr., and giving kudos to GM Eric DeCosta for getting a first-round pick back. Of consequence, it seems, was the opinion of some that Brown was a better fit here than elsewhere.

Even after filling in key blanks, the Ravens face questions about their offensive line. My list: 1) Will Ronnie Stanley be ready for the season opener? 2) Is Ben Cleveland a plug-and-play rookie starter? 3) If Bradley Bozeman does move from left guard to center, will he be as effective?

Drafting Shaun Wade with a fifth-round pick has the makings of a classic "steal" selection. Wade played slot cornerback at a first-round level for Ohio State in 2019 before struggling on the outside in 2020, which lowered his stock. But the Ravens want him for the slot, where he thrived.

In my way-way-too-early assessment of the Ravens' 2022 draft blueprint, I see defensive line as their biggest position of need along with offensive tackle. Justin Madubuike is one piece of the puzzle going forward, but they need more such pieces given the age and contract status of their current starters.

Yup, for the first time in, well, maybe forever, wide receiver doesn't project as a significant position of need going forward. That's what happens after you draft two players at the position in the first round, two in the third round and two on Day 3 in a three-year span.

Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley were winners when the Ravens didn't draft new blood for the race to back up Lamar Jackson. But in the end, only the one who earns the job will be a big winner. My hunch is the other will land on the practice squad.

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