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Late for Work 4/26: Will Positive Ronnie Stanley Report Affect Ravens' Draft Strategy?

T Ronnie Stanley

Ronnie Stanley Reportedly on Pace to Be Ready for 2022 Season

All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley reportedly underwent a medical checkup recently and is on pace to be ready for the 2022 season. If true, that's obviously great news for Stanley and the state of the offense.

Since we're just two days away from the start of the draft, the immediate question is whether it will affect the Ravens' draft strategy.

Largely because of the uncertainty surrounding Stanley's recovery from his second consecutive season-ending ankle surgery, offensive tackle is regarded as one of the Ravens' top needs in the draft, which begins Thursday night. A number of mock drafts have the Ravens selecting an offensive tackle (specifically Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning) with the 14th-overall pick.

The encouraging news regarding Stanley's progress could allow the Ravens to focus on other needs (i.e. edge rusher, cornerback) in the first round or simply go with the best player available.

Or it might not have any effect.

"The reported positive news is a breath of fresh air for many who have been hoping for updates on the Pro Bowl lineman," Ravens Wire’s Steve Rudden wrote. "However, the team still needs offensive line help, and the news should not deter Baltimore from adding offensive tackle depth in the draft."

Baltimore Beatdown’s Dustin Cox wrote: "Baltimore still must add insurance at the position in case Stanley suffers another unfortunate setback. General Manager Eric DeCosta even admitted that he made a mistake assuming Stanley would return to form and be healthy last season. Do not expect DeCosta to make the same mistake again."

Stanley suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 8 in 2020 and played just one game last season before undergoing a second ankle surgery.

Both DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh have said they are optimistic about updates they have received on Stanley's progress this offseason. Optimism increased when a video of Stanley walking backward on a beach without any trace of a limp surfaced on social media a couple weeks ago.

The sight of Stanley strolling on the beach was to Ravens fans what Bo Derek running in slow motion on the beach was to Dudley Moore.

Ravens Named Worst Potential Landing Spot for Tyler Linderbaum

Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum has been linked to the Ravens in mock drafts, which makes sense after starting center Bradley Bozeman left in free agency.

However, not everyone believes Linderbaum is a good fit for the Ravens. Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballantine named Baltimore as the worst potential landing spot for the highly touted prospect.

Ballantine pointed to Bleacher Report draft scout Brandon Thorn's opinion that Linderbaum "can execute gap concepts, but ideally he's in a zone-based scheme that sprinkles those in rather than majors in them."

"The Baltimore Ravens could (correctly) feel like Linderbaum would immediately fill the hole left by Bradley Bozeman's free-agent departure. However, his game is a round peg in the square hole of the Ravens' scheme," Ballantine wrote. "According to Sports Info Solutions, Baltimore's run game had the second-highest percentage of gap concepts in the league at 51 percent last year.

"The Ravens would be better off targeting another position in the first round, and Linderbaum can go to a more zone-centric system that will allow him to dominate."

There are other factors that suggest Linderbaum and the Ravens aren't a good match. For one, DeCosta said at the pre-draft press conference that the Ravens "want big guys" at center. At 6-foot-2, 296 pounds, Linderbaum is one of the smallest offensive linemen in this year's draft.

ESPN Pundit Has Ravens Waiting Until Late in Third Round to Select an Edge Rusher

Edge rusher is widely believed to be the Ravens' top need entering the draft, with a number of mock drafts predicting Baltimore to address the position in the first round.

ESPN’s Matt Miller went against that line of thinking in his seven-round mock draft. He doesn't have the Ravens taking an edge rusher until late in the third round, where he has them selecting San Diego State defensive end Cameron Thomas with the 100th-overall pick.

"[Thomas] is a versatile pass-rusher who fits in the mold of a Calais Campbell — albeit smaller — as a defensive end," Miller wrote. "Thomas had first-round hype at one point and is a perfect scheme fit here."

Miller could be on to something as far as the Ravens waiting until late on Day 2 to draft an edge rusher. DeCosta said at the pre-draft press conference that "it's a strong draft with edge pass rushers basically across the board in any round."

Miller had the Ravens selecting cornerbacks with their first two picks: Washington's Trent McDuffie in the first round and Auburn's Roger McCreary in the second round (45th overall). Miller mocked Alabama defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis to Baltimore in the third round (76th).

Trent McDuffie Could Be 'Perfect' Fit for Ravens' Secondary

McDuffie has consistently been one of the players most frequently mocked to the Ravens. The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker agreed that Baltimore selecting McDuffie makes sense.

Walker said McDuffie could play beside All-Pro cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters and give Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald more flexibility to move safeties Brandon Stephens and Chuck Clark around the field.

"It's possible he would be the perfect candidate to round out the Ravens' secondary and allow every other player to occupy his ideal role," Walker wrote. "The Ravens covet versatility in their top defenders and that's McDuffie's calling card.

"He's capable of blanketing a receiver on the outside but perhaps even more comfortable in zone coverage, which he played often and well at Washington. He's plenty fast, powerfully built and Pro Football Focus described him as the best tackling corner in the class, meaning he could thrive in the slot or even at safety in some scenarios."

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