Whether it was influenced by the way that the 2017 NFL Draft happened to break or whether it was largely by design, the Baltimore Ravens focused most of their resources—and all of their premium selections—on bolstering what was largely regarded as one of the better defenses in the league, though not without its sore spots.
On the flip side, the organization that has now missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons has some major questions as it pertains to the offensive side of the ball, something that could arguably apply to every position but the starting quarterback—and even that isn’t ideal.
As much as the Ravens may need further help at wide receiver, any offense must have a stout offensive line to run smoothly, and Baltimore does not have that at the moment after losing two starting linemen, one in free agency and one in a trade. Only three starters—and only two positions—are settled right now, and they will have to spend the offseason solving the riddles they penned for themselves.
Marshal Yanda is a Pro Bowler at right guard, and second-year former first-round pick Ronnie Stanley looks the part as a franchise left tackle one season into his career. Alex Lewis, a fourth-rounder from a year ago, earned a starting job at left guard and is the third starter who is essentially confirmed—but his starting position is not.
Head Coach John Harbaugh has talked about the potential for Lewis to stay at left guard, or to move to right tackle to replace Rick Wagner, who signed a big-money contract in free agency. He even suggested that he could be thrown into the mix at center to fill in the position vacated after they traded Jeremy Zuttah.
But the Ravens believe he can develop into a Pro Bowler at left guard, so there would be incentive not to move him. They run the risk of not only putting him in a position in which he is not best-suited to succeed as well as threatening to stunt his long-term growth by not allowing him to settle down in one spot.
Baltimore added a pair of offensive linemen in the fourth and fifth rounds of this past draft, but it would be a tall order to ask either one of them to be prepared to be a full-time starter as rookies, especially when you consider that this was one of the least impressive drafts for offensive linemen in years.
One option that they will have to consider is seeking out help in free agency. They have previously been connected to former Jets Pro-Bowl center Nick Mangold, and the Chargers recently has released Orlando Franklin, who has played at both guard and tackle in his career.
The problem with that would be the fact that the Ravens have under $4 million in cap space already, and they have yet to sign any of their draft picks. Should they go this route, they might part with a veteran, such as Benjamin Watson, who would save them $3 million.