While there was some debate in the early hours of the 2016 NFL Draft whether or not offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley was actually the tackle that the Baltimore Ravens wanted to draft—and I’m sure you will recall why there was a debate after a certain video was posted to Twitter prior to the draft—the team has been exceedingly pleased from that moment they decided to draft him.
He seemed to live up to what the team was expecting of him, at least in a preliminary fashion, during Baltimore’s first preseason game a couple of days back, working with the first-team offensive line as he looks to replace Eugene Monroe in the lineup from day one.
It should be noted that Stanley left practice early a few days prior to the game after suffering what was described as a soft-tissue injury, but even at that time, Stanley thought little of it and insisted that he was fine. He looked on incredulously on game day when his head coach asked if he was good to go.
“I was very much looking forward to playing”, he told reporters after the game, saying, “I really didn’t want anything to stop me from playing and definitely wanted to be a part of this. I knew this was going to be a big moment of my life, and it was”.
It was a big moment, to be sure, especially after suffering a minor injury just days in advance, but more importantly, he played well. Just as one marginal barometer of that fact is that he was given the highest grade on the team by Pro Football Focus, a 1.6 overall—feel free to take that with as many grains of salt as needed.
Though there was not much room to run, he threw a strong block on the Ravens’ opening run of the game. Two plays later, he vacated the left side of the line to allow for a scrambling lane for his quarterback.
On the Ravens’ next drive, he did well to get out on the edge to help spring the running back for a nine-yard run, his movement belying the bit of gut that he seems to have, otherwise very much looking the part of a modern starting left tackle.
He played consistently throughout the game, really with very few negative plays, which is not an unremarkable feat considering that the Ravens were playing the defending NFC champions, who got there in large part because of their defense.
Overall, there were few blemishes in Stanley’s game, and he looked like he will not be long in transitioning from college to the pros. Considering the number of highly-drafted tackles that have not been able to do so, that is notable.
But then again, it is only one preseason game, of course, though you have to start somewhere. Stanley’s start was about as good as the Ravens could have hoped for, particularly with Joe Flacco returning from a torn ACL.