With the 6th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens selected offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley. That pick may have been Laremy Tunsil, until about 15 minutes before the draft, but that never happened.
Before the draft, offensive tackle was one of the least popular picks among fans for a Baltimore team that had severely disappointed in 2015.
After the pick, many were still disappointed.
During the season, they saw the difference a Franchise left tackle can make for an NFL organization. Stanley proved he has what it takes to protect Joe Flacco’s blindside better than any left tackle Baltimore has employed since Jonathan Ogden’s retirement.
Stanley’s pick was undoubtedly the best decision Baltimore could have made at no. 6 in last year’s draft.
Now the question is, should Baltimore double down and select an offensive lineman in the first round for the second straight year?
I believe they should hold off on an offensive lineman until after the first two rounds, and try to upgrade the pass rush first and foremost at this point. Before the Brandon Carr signing, I had cornerback as the top first round priority.
Right tackle and center are both top needs the team must address before the season begins. Former starter Ricky Wagner left Baltimore to become the highest paid right tackle in the league, and Jeremy Zuttah was traded after a disappointing third year in which he was pushed around easily and committed six penalties.
This has been a dark horse projection in the upcoming draft for Baltimore among fans, and is currently gaining steam as the weeks go by.
Mel Kiper projected Baltimore selecting Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk in his latest mock draft. There have also been reports that the Ravens Front Office is infatuated with Alabama prospect Cam Robinson, as well.
But of course, with so much time between the Super Bowl and the draft, analysts have time to project any position of need to every team.
The Ravens need two new starters, but should only fill one of those spots with a rookie.
This upcoming draft is also projected to put out one of the weaker offensive line classes compared to recent years. So, the next question is, should the Ravens pull the trigger on a top lineman in a weak class, as opposed to another top need (edge rusher, wide receiver, inside linebacker)?
Baltimore has had success turning late round picks into quality players in recent years (Alex Lewis and Wagner). They must decide whether they believe a top lineman in this draft will be a truly dominant player, or if they can develop another late round prospect.