First-Rounders Ronnie Stanley And Laremy Tunsil Are Linked, And Also Friends

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Much like Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, Ronnie Stanley and Laremy Tunsil will likely be forever linked.

Stanley and Tunsil are two rookie left tackles considered the best at their position in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Tunsil was rumored to be headed to Baltimore on draft day, but the Ravens selected Stanley at No. 6-overall minutes after a video leaked of Tunsil smoking a bong attached to a gas mask. Tunsil tumbled to the Miami Dolphins at pick No. 13.

The Ravens said at the time that the video really didn't affect their decision. They were just working off their board, which Stanley was right at the top of, but that crazy draft night will be remembered this week as the Ravens and Dolphins prepare to meet at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday.

How close were the Ravens to selecting Tunsil instead?

"I would say it doesn't matter, and really there's no way to measure it," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I don't even know and I was in the draft room. I would probably say [General Manager] Ozzie [Newsome] doesn't know for sure. Or maybe Ozzie does, but he wasn't telling us."

It has seemingly worked out for both sides. Stanley has fit in well in Baltimore and been an obvious big part of their offensive line. The Ravens lost all four games when he was out due to injury. The Dolphins' resurgence and six-game winning streak has largely been on the legs of its ground game, which Tunsil has contributed to.

Stanley said he hasn't paid much attention to the season Tunsil is having, but the two are friends.

"That's my guy," Stanley said Wednesday. "We met at the draft. He's a really awesome kid and a good person. I hate to see what happened to him [on draft night]. I wish the best for him."

Both rookies have had some trials and successes in their first season.

Both immediately jumped in as starters, but Tunsil has played left guard in seven of nine games played. Brandon Albert is Miami's veteran left tackle. When Albert suffered a wrist injury, Tunsil briefly took his spot, but suffered an injury to his shoulder, which left him on the sideline last week against the San Francisco 49ers.

Stanley opened the season as the Ravens' starting left tackle, but was derailed by a foot injury that knocked him out of four games from Week 4 to Week 7. Stanley had never missed a game before.

"It really hurt him to be out for four or five weeks," Harbaugh said. "That was a long stretch. He kind of had to start over a little bit from a technique standpoint and speed of the game. He has done that, and he's gotten better every week"

Stanley had a rough game against the Steelers in his first game back, as he committed three penalties and gave up a sack/strip. Since then, however, he's had back-to-back strong games in which he's given up just two quarterback hurries.

"Very happy with Ronnie," Harbaugh said. "The thing I like about Ronnie, I've said this before, is that Ronnie is very smart to go on top of his talent. He improves. He doesn't make mistakes on top of the same mistake. To me, that's why he has a chance to get better."

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