Last summer, it looked as if the Ravens might enter the regular season with one of the oldest starting offensive lines in the NFL. Matt Birk, Bryant McKinnie and Bobbie Williams were all in their mid-thirties and expected to start. But as it turned out, both McKinnie and Williams started the season on the bench and only Birk played.
With voluntary organized team activities and a mandatory minicamp coming up on us quickly, all three of those guys are gone (though there is a chance the Ravens may bring McKinnie, a free agent, back if the price is right).
Now Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda, who turns 29 late this year, is a relative greybeard along the line.
Right now, Yanda is the only lineman on the 90-man offseason roster who is above the age of 26. Offensive tackles Michael Oher and Ramon Harewood are both 26. The rest are 25 or under.
That’s because the Ravens, starting with the selection of Oher in the first round of 2009, have drafted seven offensive linemen in the past five drafts, including two linemen in each of the past two.
“We always like to get some offensive linemen,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “We feel like with the coaching staff that we have there, they do a very good job of developing those guys.”
Over the weekend, the Ravens drafted Wisconsin’s Ricky Wagner, a tackle who may play guard, in the fifth round. He is 23.
“He has good frame. He has played some left and right tackle,” assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. “He offers some flexibility positionally for us. I think he has pretty good feet, pretty good strength. Experienced guy. Stays on his feet -- good balance. I think he’s very intelligent. I think he’s got toughness. We like to [draft] Midwest offensive linemen, Big 10 offensive linemen.”
The Ravens selected Colorado State-Pueblo’s Ryan Jensen, a 21-year-old who will start out playing center, in the sixth round.
“He played really well, obviously, at his level of competition, but then he went to the Texas vs. The Nation, played tackle in that All-Star game and did a really good job through the week of practice,” director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said. “Good athlete, gets up to the second level. He can run. Smart kid and tough kid.”
Those two rookies will join a crowded offensive line that includes 23-year-olds Kelechi Osemele, Jack Cornell and Antoine McClain; and 24-year-olds Jah Reid, Gino Gradkowski and David Mims.
The Ravens have youth, but do they have a left tackle?
That will be the big question, when talking about the offensive line, during offseason workouts. But clearly they have accomplished their goal of getting significantly younger in the trenches.