Ronnie Stanley has, without a doubt, solidified the Ravens’ left tackle position for the first time since Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden hung up his cleats before the 2008 season.
The next step for Stanley is to get closer to Ogden’s status. The Hall of Fame is still a long way away, but Stanley has the talent to be one of the NFL’s elite tackles.
Now the No. 6-overall pick of the 2016 draft wants to prove it. On Tuesday, Stanley was asked what it will take to reach that status.
“Just being dominant, and leaving no doubt when I come off the field on gameday knowing that '79' dominated the guys across from him,” he said.
During his rookie season, Stanley graded out as the NFL’s 17th best left tackle (among those who played at least 10 games), according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Stanley gave up three sacks and 22 quarterback hurries, and got higher marks for his pass blocking than run blocking.
Last year, PFF ranked Stanley as the league’s 13th-best left tackle. He yielded three sacks and 29 quarterback hurries, but this time got higher grades for his run blocking than pass blocking.
If Stanley can put both together, he could launch himself up the standings. The 6-foot-6 Notre Dame product certainly has the ability, work ethic and toughness to do it.
The top end of the 2016 NFL draft class was loaded with talent. All five of the players selected just before Stanley have gone to a Pro Bowl: Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Stanley said he doesn’t pay attention to their accolades, but he’ll regardless be compared against them by fans.
“I try not to worry about that too much,” Stanley said. “I try to just stay in my own zone, stay in my lane, and focus on what I need to do to be at my best.”
When Stanley was asked about what his next step is this season, he pointed to his role on the team more than his individual progression.
“Just being a more vocal leader and just showing out more on the field on gameday and being that player that can be counted on by all his teammates,” he said.
Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda is the clear leader of the Ravens’ offensive line, but with the 12-year veteran sidelined because of offseason shoulder surgery, the 24-year-old Stanley has helped to fill the void on a young offensive line still sorting itself out.
“I'm kind of a vocal person already,” Stanley said. “I like to think that I can communicate well. I think I'm ready for that challenge.”
Stanley’s job could change this year somewhat, as the Ravens could roll more read-pass option (RPO) plays into their offense with the addition of rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, who will be used as an offensive weapon alongside starter Joe Flacco.
The RPO plays will give the entire opposing defense, and especially defensive ends and outside linebackers, more to think about, which should help take some of the sting out of their pass rush.
“I think it's a great dynamic that we have in our offense,” Stanley said. “[Jackson] can be anywhere at any time. You just have to stay on your man and notice if your man's running left for some reason, it's probably because Lamar is out there.”