Mailbag: Which Line Needs More Help – Offensive or Defensive?

Offensive and Defensive linemen before taking on the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2020.

Downing: In the latest episode of The Lounge, I already planted my flag in the camp of taking an offensive tackle at pick No. 14. Yes, it's early and a lot could change between now and the draft, but the Ravens have made it clear that they will prioritize the offensive line this offseason. General Manager Eric DeCosta said during his season-review press conference that the Ravens will probably add two offensive linemen this offseason, and I expect that to start early in the draft. The Ravens need depth and potential starters along the line, and it's difficult to find NFL-ready tackles in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. At pick No. 14, the Ravens will have the chance to get one of the best tackles in this year's class, and that would give them flexibility if Ronnie Stanley weren't ready to start the season, or if center Bradley Bozeman departs in free agency.  

Now the caveat here is that DeCosta also said the Ravens want to get younger on the defensive line. Calais Campbell said this week that he plans to continue his career, but he's still a pending free agent. Brandon Williams is also set to become a free agent and Derek Wolfe's status is uncertain after he missed an entire season with hip/back issues. Adding a first-round defensive lineman could give the Ravens a building block to anchor their defensive front. Needs on both sides of the ball would give the Ravens the flexibility to go with a true "best player available" approach, but protecting quarterback Lamar Jackson is of utmost importance this year and I expect the Ravens to use their premium draft capital to get that done.

Mink: I wrote about how I feel Tyrann Mathieu would be a good fit, so I'll take the Quandre Diggs question this week. Short answer is, on the surface, I think it could make sense. With five interceptions each of the past two seasons, Diggs certainly has the production. He's gone to the Pro Bowl in back-to-back years since moving to free safety in Seattle. Plus, Diggs is a Texas guy and the Ravens have a bit of history with Longhorns at the position (Earl Thomas and DeShon Elliott).

I haven't really watched Diggs play, but I read that he's been a locker room leader in Seattle (though I'm not sure up to Mathieu's level). One red flag is he suffered a reported dislocated ankle and broken right fibula in the regular-season finale, so that will certainly complicate matters in free agency when medical information isn't as easy to come by. I don't know what Diggs' price will be, but it seems he would be an option. I do think safety is a position the Ravens could target in free agency.

Downing: This is a great question and something I expect to impact how the Ravens approach the offseason. We all saw last year with Stanley and Nick Boyle that injury timelines can change, and the Ravens will have contingency plans in place as several key players work back from serious injuries. A position to watch in that regard is running back. DeCosta acknowledged that the Ravens will be conservative in getting J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards back on the field as they recover from knee injuries. The Ravens may add to their backfield through free agency or the draft, giving them some insurance if the recoveries for Dobbins or Edwards take longer than expected.

As we discussed in the previous question, the Ravens will also give themselves options along the offensive line by investing in the position during the draft. Maybe the Ravens end up with a good problem if Stanley is healthy to start the season and Ja'Wuan James shows he's ready to step into the starting right tackle job. That could mean the Ravens have an early draft pick starting the season on the sideline, but that's a much better situation than having to scramble to fill out the offensive line because of injuries or setbacks in the rehab process.

Mink: I think the Ravens are pretty well set at guard. On one side, Kevin Zeitler was a terrific addition last offseason and an anchor moving ahead. At left guard, the Ravens already have Ben Cleveland, Tyre Phillips and Ben Powers returning, with Patrick Mekari providing additional depth if needed. Cleveland, Phillips and Powers all have starting experience at left guard and will battle for the spot this summer. I like what I saw from Cleveland down the stretch. As everyone knows, he's a big man, and I think an offseason to really improve his technique and further fill out that frame will help him take a Year 2 leap. Let's also not forget that Phillips won the job at the start of last season before suffering a knee injury in Week 1. He's been pressed into action at right tackle due to injuries, and I'd like to see what he can do with extended practice reps at guard.

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