Skip to main content

How Does Oher Affect the O-Line?


The Ravens could have gone a lot of ways in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Tight end was a concern, but Brandon Pettigrew, who was targeted by the Ravens, was picked by the Detroit Lions at No. 20.

They could have selected USC's Rey Maualuga, but Baltimore feels confident that Tavares Gooden will be the perfect replacement for the departed Bart Scott.

There were even several promising wide receivers available at that point, but none of them were ranked ahead of Mississippi offensive tackle Michael Oher.

At the end of the day, the Ravens focused on protecting their most important asset. In a quarterback-driven league, Baltimore knew it needed to invest in Joe Flacco.

"It starts with protection," said general manager Ozzie Newsome. "If we protect Joe, we know he's accurate. We know he can make all the throws. We can keep him protected. And obviously, we play against Pittsburgh, and they have [LaMarr] Woodley and [James] Harrison and people like that. If we can take care of Joe, Joe will take care of us."

That was the thinking behind giving the New England Patriots a fifth-round pick and their 26th-overall selection in order to move to the 23rd spot.

Among many draft analysts' boards, Oher was rated as a top-15 prospect.

Some even believed that he would be taken within the first 10 picks.

The Ravens think that Oher can now come in and compete for the starting right tackle spot, perhaps filling that role well into the future, creating a lasting - and imposing - tandem of bookends with third-year left tackle Jared Gaither.

"That's the kind of offensive line we've built here," said head coach John Harbaugh. "Our offensive line is just as Raven-like as our defensive line, and that's something that we targeted when we first got back here in January and February. You can see it coming together right now with a guy like Michael Oher."

What that means is there could be a shakeup of Baltimore's current roster.

Stalwart veteran Willie Anderson started 11 games for the Ravens last year, and Adam Terry, a former second-round draft pick who enters his fifth season, started seven games at that position.

Before Oher was drafted, it was estimated that Anderson would again play with the first string.

The Ravens are going to give Oher every chance to take that spot from him.

"Obviously, you have to bring him along, but he'll give us some depth in there with Willie," said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. "We've got four tackles heading in to training camp, and what better situation to be in than one that has a veteran like Willie Anderson and another guy like Adam Terry? That's huge for a young guy like this."

Added Harbaugh: "He's going to go compete for the starting job, and I don't think that's any major statement because that's what all our guys are going to do. And it's going to be tough. We have a really good right tackle right now in Willie Anderson, and I think in some ways this pick takes pressure off of Willie, too.

"Now you've got another viable option at tackle, along with Adam Terry. It's a pick that makes everybody better, but he'll be competing for a job just like everybody else."

It could especially make Flacco better.

During his rookie campaign, Flacco was only sacked 33 times, the second-fewest amount in franchise history even though the Ravens began the season with the NFL's youngest starting offensive line.

There has been some turnover, however. Marshal Yanda began the year as the starting right guard, but he tore three ligaments in his right knee after five games. Anderson took over for Terry.

And, center Jason Brown, who signed a free-agent contract with the St. Louis Rams, will be supplanted by six-time Pro Bowler Matt Birk.

In Newsome's eyes, such turnover isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"If you look at our offensive line with the youth that we have on it and the leadership that we have with Matt Birk, we feel very good as we go into 2009, 2010, 2011 with those young guys," Newsome explained.

In a conference call with Baltimore media, Oher expressed his interest to immediately step into the starting unit.

"I'm so competitive, I'm going to give it all I've got and compete," Oher said. "If it works out, I have all the tools that you need to succeed on the offensive line. So if it works out that way, it would be great. I can't wait.

"I'm a physical player," he continued. "I have every tool that you need to succeed on the offensive line, and I'm determined to help my team win."

Which is the end result everyone wants.

Selecting an offensive lineman may not be the sexiest pick or light a fire for most football fans, but the Ravens know games are won in the trenches.

"If you can dominate up front on both sides of the ball, you're going to have a chance in just about every game," Newsome said. "Our guys are going to have to make plays outside, too, but when you're strong and you have depth on the offensive line, you've got a chance to be a pretty good football team."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content