When the NFL's best left tackles are being discussed, Ronnie Stanley wants the conversation to start with him.
Stanley has arrived at mandatory minicamp looking lean and focused, determined to have a season that will lead to his first Pro Bowl. However, Stanley has set even loftier goals.
"He wants to be the best left tackle in football," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "That's his goal. He tells me that quite often. And I think he's had a really good offseason. I think he's worked for that. I would say I expect that, too. I want him to be that."
Stanley has been a starter since Day 1 of his rookie season in 2016 when he was drafted as the sixth pick overall. Each year, he has become more confident and consistent, and he has begun to take a larger leadership role. The Ravens have a second-year player starting at right tackle, Orlando Brown Jr., and they drafted left guard Ben Powers in the fourth round. Stanley figures he can help both young players accelerate their learning curve.
"I'm definitely trying to take a bigger step in leadership and trying to be there more for my teammates, try to help them out, teach them things that I know and just try to make our team overall better," Stanley said.
The coaching staff sees Stanley's talent as well. Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris thinks Stanley's athleticism sets him apart. Pass-blocking has always been a strength for Stanley because he has the agility to protect the quarterback's blindside against even the league's top edge rushers.
"He's very athletic," D'Alessandris said. "He could play tight end. He's quick enough to do those kinds of things. He likes that left tackle position, and you have to have a great left tackle in this league to be successful. He's taken the steps, each practice, each day, to master and become a good left tackle in this league."
Stanley played through a painful ankle injury during the later stages of last season and was still named as a Pro Bowl alternate. He was graded as the eighth-best left tackle in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, who credited him with just two sacks allowed all season.
The offseason gave him time to get healthy. Though Stanley says he weighs about the same, he is pleased with how his body responded to offseason training.
"I definitely wanted to lean up, put a little more muscle on," Stanley said. "Maybe not gain too much more weight, but just lean up a little bit more."
The way Stanley looks and sounds, there is no doubt he intends to have his best season. But can he be the best left tackle in football? There's nothing wrong with setting the bar high.
"It's up to him to go do it, but I'm pleased," Harbaugh said. "He looks good physically. You saw him; he's in really good shape. He's strong, and he looks like he's primed to have a really good year."