Last week, the Baltimore Ravens released veteran left tackle Eugene Monroe after waiting for him to get healthy, and after failing to work out a trade for him. The move was not unexpected after the team used its sixth-overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft on tackle Ronnie Stanley, who is now anticipated to be the opening day starter at left tackle.
The Ravens traded for Monroe about a month into the 2013 season, only to re-sign him the following offseason to a big-money contract. He has since dealt with injuries, however, including a knee scope during the 2014 season, and a number of injuries landed him on injured reserve in 2015.
While there was some speculation as to whether or not his outspoken advocacy for the use of medical marijuana in place of opioids played a role in the team’s dissatisfaction with him, John Harbaugh said otherwise, and the team had been looking for alternatives even last year, working Kelechi Osemele at left tackle after Monroe went down.
The Ravens offered Osemele a contract that would have compensated him as a tackle, but he instead signed with the Raiders. When Baltimore was able to draft Stanley, however, that likely was the writing on the wall that Monroe’s future with the Ravens was drawing to a close. As soon as he got healthy enough to practice, and as soon as Stanley showed enough during the spring, he was gone.
While he will not be lining up immediately adjacent to the rookie, longtime starting right guard Marshal Yanda had some advice to share, telling Stanley to “keep his head down”, and not to “worry about anything else outside of this building, just work on football”. Quarterback Joe Flacco has said that Yanda has spoken highly of the rookie to him.
It will be interesting to watch how the Ravens’ offensive line comes together this year, as it will consist of an entirely new left side, with Stanley taking over left tackle. But with Osemele gone, John Urschel is expected to start at left guard. Urschel started seven games at center last year due to injury.
Stanley is the first offensive lineman that the Ravens have taken in the first two rounds since Osemele was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft. While a tackle in college, he moved to guard due to his size and skill set at the professional level, but is now back to tackle. Michael Oher was also drafted in the first round in 2009.
As for Stanley, he has already made some friends for himself off the field. He recently drew headlines after a local animal shelter shared on Facebook a story of how he and his girlfriend adopted a dog from them, a six-year-old who had spent considerable time there after being regarded as “not-so-adoptable”.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will send out their welcome wagon for the rookie first on November 9 in Baltimore, with longtime rookie ambassador James Harrison no doubt leading the way.