Mailbag: How Will the Ravens Improve Their Offensive Line?

Ravens Offense Huddle

I'm flying solo with Garrett in Las Vegas for the Pro Bowl this week. Here we go!

Mink: I think the Ravens will mostly look toward the draft to boost their offensive line. I would expect that they'll make multiple picks there. It could be two offensive tackles or a tackle and a center (or maybe two tackles and a center?). My leaning is a tackle and a center.

Tackle is an obvious big need. The Ravens not only need a starting-caliber right tackle, but they ideally would like to have somebody that could help at left tackle if Ronnie Stanley were not fully ready again. I think a Day 1 or 2 pick will be competing with Ja'Wuan James and possibly Patrick Mekari for that starting right tackle job next year.

If the Ravens don't re-sign Bradley Bozeman, Mekari is the natural replacement as the starter. But it would be ideal if Baltimore had the flexibility to use Mekari at right tackle (or any other spot) if needed rather than having to lock him in at center. Thus, I think a center makes a lot of sense to provide more competition and depth. ESPN's Mel Kiper has the Ravens taking Tyler Linderbaum in his first mock draft.

I just don't see them signing a veteran offensive lineman except maybe one late in the process for tackle depth if they weren't able to get one early in the draft. Last year's James signing set them up with that veteran this year and they have plenty of young interior linemen.

Mink: I saw your takeover last week and now will answer this since John Harbaugh has spoken to it. In 2021, the Ravens offense performed better than the defense did despite having more injuries to more key players, including the star quarterback. The offense still finished sixth in the league in yards, compared to 25th by the defense.

Any offense in the league would struggle without its starting quarterback for a third of the season, especially one of Lamar Jackson's caliber with a unique skillset that the scheme has been built around. I've often seen the offense's injuries (such as the offensive line) cited as reasons for some of Jackson's troubles this season, yet they don't seem to be given as much weight when discussing Roman. Why?

The Ravens offense has been built around the running game ever since Roman took over in 2019 and created a scheme that Harbaugh called "revolutionary." And it was. It set all-time NFL records and led the league in scoring, and second in yards, in 2019. Roman was named the Assistant Coach of the Year.

Baltimore's offense has not been the best in the league the past couple years, but let's not act like it has fallen off a cliff. Far from it. The passing game made big strides this year, jumping from 32nd to 13th in yards per game despite Jackson's five starts missed.

The offense needs to continue to improve. It wasn't perfect this year. But while perfection is the aim, it's not a fair expectation given the injuries sustained. Bringing in a new offensive coordinator would shake things up, but hardly ensure improvement, especially for a young quarterback entering a huge year. If the Ravens improve their offensive line, Jackson continues to grow as a passer, and the running backs come back strong, I believe Baltimore's offense can return to being one of the NFL's most effective.

Mink: Yes, I do expect that Sam Koch will return. The Ravens would save $2.1 million if they were to release him. I don't think they're so tight against the cap that it's a necessary move. Sam didn't have his finest season in 2021, but it wasn't far off his high standard either. Plus, he brings a lot more to the table in terms of leadership and being arguably the best holder in the NFL, which is an important component in Justin Tucker's success.

Though he's 39 years old, I don't think Sam's skills have eroded. Last offseason, the Ravens showed they're not afraid to make changes on their special teams units when they parted ways with veteran long snapper Morgan Cox. But that was partly because they knew they already had a strong replacement in Nick Moore. Who would replace Koch? The Ravens have too many other needs to add punter to the list, in my opinion.

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