The Battle for Center Is On

Matt Skura, Bradley Bozeman and Patrick Mekari

The Ravens will have a new starting right guard, but they could also have a new starting center.

The possibility of Bradley Bozeman moving from left guard to center was raised by General Manager Eric DeCosta last week during a conference call with PSL Owners.

Matt Skura started the first 10 games at center last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury, and undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari started the rest of the way. Both played well, but it appears Bozeman will be considered for the starting center position. The 6-foot-5, 311-pound Bozeman started every game at left guard in 2019. However, moving him to center would add size to Baltimore's offensive line.

"I think it's up in the air," DeCosta said. "(Bozeman) is a guy with a lot of experience at center, is certainly capable of competing in that spot."

A sixth-round pick in 2018, Bozeman was the starting center his final two seasons at Alabama and he entered the NFL with more experience at that position. Bozeman won the starting left guard spot during the preseason last year, beating out rookie Ben Powers and two veterans who were eventually traded, Alex Lewis and Jermaine Eluemunor.

The Ravens have plenty of time to figure out who their starting center will be, and it's possible Bozeman will stay put at left guard. DeCosta said Skura is recovering well from his injury, although no specific timetable was given for his return. Mekari was solid after entering the lineup, and he should return next season better equipped after that experience.

However, the Ravens ran the football more than any NFL team last season and they rely on physical run-blocking up front. The interior offensive line lost a major piece with the retirement of perennial Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda. If the Ravens think moving Bozeman to center will make them a better run-blocking team, they have plenty of candidates to play either guard position.

The Ravens signed veteran D.J. Fluker who could become the new starting right guard. Fluker started 14 games at right guard for the Seattle Seahawks last season, helping them make the playoffs as a big-bodied (6-foot-5, 342 pounds), mauling run blocker.

Baltimore drafted two offensive linemen who can compete for either starting guard spot – Tyre Phillips of Mississippi State (third round) and Ben Bredeson of Michigan (fourth round), and Powers will return with more experience as a second-year player. The Ravens also signed four undrafted interior offensive linemen who will compete for roster spots, guards Evan Adams (Syracuse) and Daishawn Dixon (San Diego State) and centers Trystan Colon-Castillo (Missouri) and Sean Pollard (Clemson).

The Ravens have the best offensive tackle tandem in football in left tackle Ronnie Stanley (All-Pro) and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. (Pro Bowler). They are coming off a season in which they set the NFL all-time team record for rushing yards.

However, losing Yanda means the offensive line will have a different look next season, and part of that could mean Bozeman at center. DeCosta is pleased with the depth and versatility of the line, and he is confident that whoever starts at center will play well.

"We're fortunate that we've got three (veteran) guys who can snap and compete at that spot," DeCosta said. "We feel like we've got good depth there, and I think we're in a good spot in terms of the guards and the centers and the combination of guys that could play both spots."

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