While they may not ever directly concede to the fact, there is enough circumstantial and second-hand evidence to suggest strongly that the draft-day video of offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil doing something rather uncouth with a gasmask, of all things, threw a wrench into the Baltimore Ravens’ plans with their sixth-overall selection.
Not that they would ever cop to it, but it is likely that they had Tunsil rated higher than Ronnie Stanley, whom they ended up drafting. It was Tunsil that was widely talked about on their website in the week leading up to the draft, and even an article titled “HOW RAVENS COULD GET TOP-RATED LAREMY TUNSIL” published in the week leading up to it—not that that constitutes the evaluation of general manager Ozzie Newsome.
But you’ll pardon me if I doubt the claim that Newsome had Stanley ranked higher than Tunsil on his draft board prior to the video surfacing. And I wouldn’t be the only person who remains skeptical of such an assertion.
Jamison Hensley reported on ESPN that the Ravens “would have taken Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil with the No. 6 overall pick were it not for the gas mask video that surfaced on social media right before the draft”, citing league sources that informed Adam Schefter of that information.
Later reports said that the video had the Ravens completely take Tunsil off their draft board, but John Harbaugh quipped that he wasn’t taken off their board until the Dolphins drafted him. Not that they would have been likely to draft another tackle after that, but the tone of the exchange suggested something more than trying to be funny. When asked if Stanley was rated higher, he said, “I’ll tell you think, Ronnie was right there at the top row of players”, answering the question by not giving an answer.
The funny thing is that the entire scenario—such that it means anything, either now or in the long run—would have been moot had they actually gotten their way, since what they really wanted to do was trade up to the fourth selection in order to draft cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was taken fifth overall, just a spot ahead of the Ravens.
How they move forward with an admittedly very talented tackle who will either step in at right tackle or immediately displace Eugene Monroe at left tackle, an embattled veteran who has battled injuries the past couple of seasons.
Indeed, it would seem to me that their secondary could have more greatly used an influx of talent such as Ramsey than their line needed a new tackle, given that they have Monroe and Ricky Wagner in place already. But Stanley is nothing to sneeze at, and he also is capable of playing guard.
I certainly don’t think that the Ravens earn any grief for drafting Stanley over Tunsil. Even prior to the draft, there was talk that a handful of teams indeed had him ranked higher on their board, and that perhaps off-field issues factored into that ranking. But their post-draft narrative of how things unfolded seems suspicious, and I’m more leaning toward the information given on draft day to Aditi Kinkhabwala and days later to Schefter regarding how events actually unfolded.