Former Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva signed a two-year, $14 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday. That deal included $8 million fully guaranteed.
Villanueva spoke with the Baltimore media on Wednesday. Along with saying that part of his motivation to sign with the Ravens was to play the Steelers twice a year, he also touched on protecting quarterback Lamar Jackson.
“There are certain players in the NFL that truly inspire you to get the best out of you, because you see how rare the talent is,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva also went on to compare Jackson’s athleticism and play to that of former Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell from when he used to block for him in Pittsburgh several years ago.
“I felt that when I was playing with Le’Veon Bell,” Villanueva said. “Le’Veon Bell would make some plays, we’ll drop that football [to him], and you always felt energized, as an offense lineman, to continue to give your best for that player.”
Villanueva had more to say about Jackson and his ability on the football field.
“I don’t think there’s a doubt in anyone’s mind that when you see Lamar Jackson play, you want to do everything for him, protect him and continue to see the magic that he displays on the field, because it not only makes the game of football incredibly fun for the fans and for everybody out there, but it also wins you a lot of football games, and that’s something that the franchise, obviously, has to value and protect,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva went on to say that he doesn’t foresee it being a big problem for him when it comes to him moving from left tackle to right tackle with the Ravens.
“I think the transition is going to be more into the playbook of the Ravens than it is going to be from left tackle to right tackle, because so many of the plays are so different,” Villanueva said. “As you probably know in Pittsburgh, we threw the ball a lot from a two-point stance. We had the vertical set. We were trying to sort all the blitzers that were coming from Baltimore and different formations and whatnot.
“So, this playbook is a lot more of what I used to do in college, which is it doesn’t matter if you put your right or left hand down, you’re probably going to be far enough off the ball [and] get good angles. So, for me, that’s the transition that I want to get back into. The left to right tackle is not as important, because we’re not going to be, hopefully, throwing the ball 800 times a season.”
It certainly will be interesting to see Villanueva move from left tackle to right tackle with the Ravens. In his NFL career, Villanueva played exclusively left tackle. It will also be interesting to watch Villanueva run block more than pass block in Baltimore. That was the weakest part of his game while with the Steelers.
In addition to it being interesting to watch Villanueva run block more on the right, watching him pass block at least twice a season against Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt should be a treat to see, as well.