The Baltimore Ravens came into existence in 1996, and in order to get the ball rolling, during the 1996 NFL Draft, they decided to start off by locking up their blindside for the long term, drafting Jonathan Ogden with the fourth overall pick.
Ogden proved to be every bit the franchise cornerstone that the Ravens and general manager Ozzie Newsome hoped that he would be, securing the budding franchise’s left tackle needs for the next 12 seasons, securing 11 Pro Bowl nods, five first-team All-Pro recognitions, and nine All-Pro years altogether, before retiring in 2008 and five years later entering the Hall of Fame.
It may be fitting, then, that after a dire season for the Ravens, and during an offseason in which Newsome has acknowledged that his recent drafts have not been up to the standards of excellence that he set early on in the organization’s history, he may have a shot at trying to duplicate that original winning formula with the sixth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Should they be provided that opportunity to secure their next cornerstone blindside defender, it will surely be Laremy Tunsil, whom some regard as the best prospect in the draft. Tunsil was a very realistic shot at being the number one overall pick before the Rams traded up from the 15th spot with the Titans to secure a quarterback.
With the prospect of the Browns also taking a quarterback at number two, the odds have been increasing as we get closer to the draft that Tunsil will be available for Baltimore to draft when their time comes to make their selection in the first round.
Their current left tackle, Eugene Monroe, will turn 29 tomorrow. A former eighth overall pick in 2009, the Ravens traded for him in 2013 for a pair of mid-round draft picks, and they secured a long-term deal for him the following offseason, but he has dealt with injuries since then.
Monroe had to have his knee scoped in late September of 2014, which sidelined him for several weeks and affected his play for a period of time on the field before he regained his comfort level. Last season, he missed three games after a concussion he suffered in the opener. He later missed another game heading into the bye, and then missed two starts in Weeks 12 and 13, all with ankle, knee, and shoulders injuries, the latter of which landed him on injured reserve.
His status put James Hurst in the starting lineup, which helped facilitate the ACL injury Joe Flacco suffered, and ultimately prompted the Ravens moving Kelechi Osemele to left tackle, who just signed a monster free agent contract.
Even though he is still relatively young at 29 and has three years left on his contract, the Ravens are seriously looking at Tunsil, who could be the long-term future if he is available. Monroe has been a very good player when healthy, but he has missed 17 games since joining the Ravens.
Plus, there’s simply something poetic about the opportunity to try to replicate the success with a franchise left tackle that got the franchise off on the right foot in the first place. It’s almost like the Steelers landing the opportunity to draft their next Joe Greene, though on a smaller scale.