While it shouldn’t come as a shock, it is notable that the Baltimore Ravens have decided to move veteran starting left guard Bradley Bozeman to center this year. The team has faced some instability at the center position in recent years, particularly during the 2020 season, over the course of which both Matt Skura and Patrick Mekari were benched for performance reasons.
The thing is, Bozeman, a sixth-round pick out of Alabama in 2018, was a starter at center in college. It’s not like he’s really making a position switch in the sense of Willie Colon moving to guard in 2012, having never played the position before. The only real question now is what to do at guard. John Harbaugh’s focus is on Bozeman’s spot.
“He’s looking real good”, he said of Bozeman’s work at center during OTAs last week. “It doesn’t seem hard for him. He’s very comfortable in there. He’s making the calls. He’s moving very naturally as a center. He’s snapping the ball very well. I think that’s where we’re at – that’ll be our starting point. Moving forward, he’ll be the center, and then we’ll let guys compete from there. He’s our starting center today. We’ll see where it goes, but I have a lot of confidence in Bradley”.
Now, how does the rest of the line shake out? Well, they have Ronnie Stanley returning at left tackle, though he may not be ready for the start of the season. Baltimore signed Alejandro Villanueva to take over at right tackle after trading Orlando Brown. And they also acquired Kevin Zeitler to play right guard.
Who, then, is the left guard? Well, they do have options. Tyre Phillips, a third-round pick a year ago, started eight of 12 games played last year at right guard before an injury. They just drafted the massive Ben Cleveland in the third round out of Georgia. Ben Bredeson is yet another second-year guard, drafted in the fourth round, who can develop. Ben Powers, a fourth-round pick in 2019 (and a Steelers fan), is yet another option. He started seven games at right guard last year.
The deeper you look into the Ravens’ situation, it actually feels very much like the right move to kick Bozeman inside to center. Skura is gone, but they still have Mekari and Trystan Castillo, who was a rookie undrafted free agent last year who held up well in a start against the Steelers. But Bozeman clearly is the most talented of the group, and you have a lot more options at guard.
If I were to guess, I would wager that Phillips ends up wining the left guard job. We’ll have to see what Cleveland can do coming out of the gates. It also depends on the line’s philosophical priorities. Cleveland is, unsurprisingly, more of a power player. This should be an interesting battle to follow for those who do pay attention to such things among their rivals.