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Ravens Want A Strong O-Line. Will They Invest A First-Round Pick?


Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta grew up rooting for the Dallas Cowboys.

He watched as former Cowboys Head Coach Jimmy Johnson built a dominant offensive line in the early '90s. DeCosta took note as Dallas has gone back to that philosophy in recent years, using its first-round pick on a lineman in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

In both cases, the strategy worked out quite well.

So after using the sixth-overall pick on left tackle Ronnie Stanley last year, would DeCosta and the Ravens spend more first-round currency on the offensive line?

"It's not unprecedented," DeCosta said on an episode of "The Lounge" podcast, which will be released next week. "I think it's best player."

The Ravens will head into the draft without two starters from last year's offensive line. They lost right tackle Rick Wagner in free agency to the Detroit Lions and traded center Jeremy Zuttah to the San Francisco 49ers.

Baltimore has some in-house replacements for both positions, including John Urschel and Ryan Jensen at center, and James Hurst, Stephane Nembot and De'Ondre Wesley at right tackle. Rising sophomore Alex Lewis also gives them flexibility at multiple positions.

But it wouldn't be surprising if the Ravens aggressively address the offensive line in the draft.

"Having a strong offensive line is something that we want," DeCosta said.

"When we won the Super Bowl in 2012, I think the biggest thing that happened was we tweaked the offensive line and they became really good in a very quick span of time. Joe [Flacco] didn't get hit, and he was able to stand in the pocket and throw the ball like he can."

This year's offensive line class is not particularly strong, as the Ravens have said themselves. However, while it may not be loaded at the very top or have a ton of depth, there are quality options, including some that could make sense for Baltimore at pick No. 16.

Alabama's Cam Robinson, Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk and Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp are all possibilities. All three have been mocked to the Ravens by ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay.

Robinson is a four-year starter at left tackle who is a mauler in the run game and has superior physical traits. His best fit may be on the right side. Ramczyk took a circuitous path to major college football, but was one of the best blockers in the country once he arrived.

In his latest mock draft, in which Kiper makes picks as if he were general manager for all 32 teams, he thought it would be wise to draft Lamp, who could play guard, center or maybe right tackle.

"If you look at the offensive line, there are some versatile guys in this draft," said Kiper, who projected Ramczyk to the Ravens in his previous mock.

Kiper said that if the Ravens don't take an offensive lineman, the first one may not come off the board until pick No. 20 when the Denver Broncos are on the clock. Some teams late in the first round, including the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks, are in need, but the Ravens would have the first shot.

The Ravens could also wait until later rounds to pick linemen. While the depth is lacking, Kiper said there will be options. Kiper pointed to TCU tackle Aviante Collins, Texas A&M guard/tackle Jermaine Eluemunor, Western Michigan guard/tackle Taylor Moton and Temple guard Dion Dawkins.

Are any of them instant starters?

"That's going to be the challenge. It's not a good year at all for offensive linemen," Kiper said. "If you pick your spots wisely, you can maybe find one of those diamonds in the rough."

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