Unlikely Candidate For Ravens Breakout Player
He's a fifth-round draft pick. He's never started an NFL game at his true position.
Heck, he hasn't even officially won a starting job this season.
But the peeps at Football Outsiders believe that second-year player Rick Wagner is a potential breakout player for the Ravens this year. Wagner came in as the No. 21 breakout prospect of 25 around the league.
"Wagner was a fifth-round pick last year out of Wisconsin, where the offensive linemen practically have 'road-grader' tattooed on their foreheads," wrote Aaron Schatz. "He played a couple snaps in each game last season in six-lineman packages, but now he will take over for Michael Oher at right tackle."
Football Outsiders limited their pool of candidates to players that were drafted in the third round or later, have never started more than five games, entered the league no earlier than 2011 and are 26 years old or younger.
Wagner technically has two starts under his belt, but he was considered a blocking tight end when the Ravens ran the "jumbo" package last year.
Wagner is currently the clear frontrunner in the competition for the starting right tackle job. His main competition comes from fellow second-year youngster Ryan Jensen, who was drafted in the sixth round last year.
When asked about Wagner's progress during offseason workouts in June, Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak was impressed.
"To me, Ricky has been – I don't want to say he's a surprise, because I expected him to play well – but I think we put a lot on his plate early walking in here as a starter, new scheme and those types of things," he said. "He has responded and hasn't missed a rep. He plays very hard in what we're doing, so we just have to keep going. But I've been very pleased with Ricky."
One of the main points of emphasis this offseason was to improve the offensive line play, and if Wagner becomes the breakout player of the year for the Ravens, that will go a long way for the unit.
Another potential breakout player is second-year defensive lineman Brandon Williams.
"The Ravens player who should have made the list is nose tackle Brandon Williams, a third-round pick from a year ago who worked with the starting defense this offseason," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "He is essentially taking Arthur Jones' spot on the defensive line. Williams has a great combination of size and athleticism."
No More Drama On Blindside
With the veterans scheduled to report to training camp today and conditioning tests this afternoon, the Ravens will have some peace of mind at left tackle.
With workout warrior Eugene Monroe manning the post instead of Bryant McKinnie, Hensley says there should be no drama on the blindside this year.
"For the first time in three years, the Ravens don't have to worry about what shape their left tackle will report in," the ESPN blogger wrote. "Monroe is one of the Ravens' best-conditioned athletes because he takes so much pride in his regimen.
"He swims, does yoga and watches what he eats. After the Ravens' final workout last month, Monroe remained in Baltimore to train at the Ravens' facility. When he went on vacation with his family last week, he still carved out time to work out."
Last year at this time, McKinnie was held out of the first day of training camp practice because he was overweight. In 2012, he missed the first three sessions because he fell and injured his back in Miami.
"There are no such concerns with Monroe. In fact, coach John Harbaugh went out of his way to applaud Monroe and left guard Kelechi Osemele during the offseason," Hensley added. "With McKinnie, the Ravens gave him a target weight of 346 pounds. With Monroe, there's a good chance that he will report a few pounds under 300."
Chris McAlister Interning With Bills
Former Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister is back in the NFL.
He's not back as a player. He's an intern with the Buffalo Bills as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship program. He is working with the Bills secondary.
The connection McAlister has in Buffalo is with DBs coach Donnie Henderson, who was the former secondary coach with the Ravens.
McAlister was in the NFL for 11 years, and was loved by Ravens fans during his time in Baltimore. He won a Super Bowl ring with the team during the 2000 season.
Former wide receiver Donte Stallworth is interning with the Ravens during training camp as part of the same program.
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