Mailbag: Who Will End Up Starting at Right Guard?

G D.J. Fluker

Mink: The hole left by Marshal Yanda's retirement is really the only spot where the Ravens have gotten worse this offseason. Well, No. 3 tight end took a hit after trading Hayden Hurst to the Titans, but the Ravens got J.K. Dobbins out of that deal and it's a third tight end.

Baltimore's strategy on the interior of the offensive line has seemingly been to add as much competition as possible and let it sort itself out. At right guard, recent veteran signee D.J. Fluker, rising sophomore Ben Powers, third-round rookie Tyre Phillips and potentially fourth-round rookie Ben Bredeson will be competing for the spot.

At the end of the day, I think Fluker will be the Week 1 starter. He's massive and his power style fits perfectly into this offense. He has far more experience than any of the other options, which I think counts even more in an altered offseason. I think it would be tough for any rookie to jump into a starting role this year, especially for Phillips considering he said he hasn't played any guard (he was a college tackle). Phillips and Powers have the best chances of being long-term solutions and my bet is that Bredeson eventually lands at left guard or center.

Downing: Trades are always possible, and General Manager Eric DeCosta has shown a willingness make moves with other teams (hello Marcus Peters and Calais Campbell). But with that said, I'm not convinced that it's likely for the Ravens to trade away one of their offensive linemen or quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Let's start with the offensive line: The reason the Ravens have so many potential starters is because it's unclear how the line will come together this summer. They aren't going to trade away one of these players before the starting line is in place. They also don't necessarily have linemen that make sense to trade. They didn't sign Fluker this week to trade him and they aren't going to deal away one of the rookies in Bredesen or Phillips. That basically leaves Powers, but he could end up in the starting lineup.

And with Griffin, the question about trading him has come up plenty of times over the past two years. It hasn't happened yet, and I think it's even less likely now. The Ravens like what he provides as a backup to Lamar Jackson. Plus, the quarterback market is saturated right now. Cam Newton hasn't even been able to get a job yet, so I don't expect many teams to be in the market for a backup quarterback trade.

Mink: DeCosta was clear in saying that he sees a role for all four running backs this season, but I do think we'll see a reduction in Gus Edwards' carries, and Justice Hill does not appear to be in line for a big boost. Last season, it broke down as such in carries: Mark Ingram II (202), Lamar Jackson (176), Edwards (133), Hill (58). Jackson said he intends to run less, so let's drop that to 150 or so. I think the Ravens would like to help Ingram stay fresher, so let's take that to 175. Edwards could go to 100 and it wouldn't surprise me if Hill has slightly fewer too, say 50. That's about 100 carries for Dobbins, which seems right for a rookie just breaking in but with enough talent to get the ball a lot. Dobbins could even see more of that if he plays well early and takes over more of that No. 2 running back share from Edwards as the season goes on.

Downing: I expect Proche's immediate impact to be as a returner. Sure, the sixth-round pick could earn his way into a significant role on offense, but I think that's further down the line in his career. Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin and Willie Snead IV are the top three wideouts on the depth chart. Fellow rookie Devin Duvernay, a third-round pick, is expected to make more of an offensive impact in his rookie campaign. That leaves Proche as the team's fifth receiver, which is usually a limited offensive role. The most likely path for Proche is to earn his stripes as a return man, and if he excels in that role, the coaches might want to find ways to get him more involved in the offense.

Mink: This pairs well with my first question. The Ravens are a bit thinner at backup offensive tackle after James Hurst's release earlier this offseason. Hurst was a valuable reserve who could play basically any spot on the line and had big-game experience.

However, Baltimore picked up Andre Smith at the end of last season and inked him for another year earlier this offseason. He can certainly do the job given that the 12-year pro has made 98 career starts. Though the Ravens project Phillips to be best at guard, he could step into a tackle spot if needed given that he played there in college. Thus, I doubt Baltimore will make another move to add a backup tackle.

Downing: The plan for training camp is for the rookies and veterans to be together in Baltimore preparing for the season at the Under Armour Performance Center. Training camp doesn't open until late July, so the hope and expectation is that the team will be able to run normal practices at that point. Certainly the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the entire sports landscape, and the NFL will continue to adjust the plans based on the health and safety of the players.

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