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10 Questions: Who Will Win the Left Guard Battle?

G John Simpson
G John Simpson

The best competition for a starting job at Ravens training camp will be at left guard, where Baltimore is looking to replace Ben Powers, who is now in Denver.

Powers was no shoe-in for the starting job at this time a year ago. Now, a different cast of talented players will vie for the role.

Here's where we stand now:

John Simpson seems to have a leg up.

The Ravens signed Simpson to their practice squad on Dec. 19 of last season. They didn't have much of a need for him then, but perhaps saw the writing on the wall that Powers could leave in free agency. The Ravens inked Simpson to a reserve/future contract after the season ended and now have an experienced veteran in the fold.

Simpson started all 17 games for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021. He's a big-bodied (6-foot-4, 330 pounds) blocker who was a fourth-round pick out of Clemson in 2020. Simpson is still young and a player on the rise, but his experience gives him a leg up on his competition. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Simpson "has done a great job in there" during offseason practices so far.

"He's another [player who's] played a lot of football," Harbaugh said. "He's really moving his feet well, working on his balance and his platform a little bit, and I think [he's] getting better every day at that. And he's a big, strong guy, a good athlete. I'm excited about him."

Sala Aumavae-Laulu got first-team minicamp reps.

One of the more interesting challengers is sixth-round rookie Sala Aumavae-Laulu. He got first-team reps during minicamp and Harbaugh said he did a "great job" and is "in the mix right now" for the starting job.

Aumavae-Laulu is another big-bodied (6-foot-5, 325 pounds) and nimble blocker. He primarily played right tackle during his college career at Oregon, but if he proves to be a quick study and is strong and consistent at the point of attack, he could win the job.

Ben Cleveland and others are being used at multiple spots.

The third primary option for the starting job is Ben Cleveland, the gargantuan 6-foot-6, 370-pound mauler who the Ravens drafted in the third round in 2021. Cleveland has started five games over his first two seasons and has flashed at times but needs to stay healthy and be consistent. He saw reps at tackle during minicamp, an indication that the Ravens want to see if he can expand his versatility.

The Ravens have also experimented with giving second-year offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, another monster at 6-foot-8, 380 pounds, practice reps at guard. Veteran Patrick Mekari can start at any position on the offensive line, which may be his greatest strength.

Baltimore used OTAs and minicamp to get extended looks at all the options for left guard and training camp will be the time to narrow it down more with the hope that someone seizes the job outright. If not, a rotation to start the season could be the outcome.

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