Ronnie Stanley’s biggest endorsement Thursday night might have come from Jon Gruden.
Referencing an October game last season when Stanley matched up against Clemson pass rusher Shaq Lawson — the 19th overall pick by the Buffalo Bills — Gruden described just how hopeless Lawson was in getting past the big left tackle.
"I watched [Shaq Lawson] play Ronnie Stanley at Notre Dame,” Gruden said on ESPN’s live draft telecast. “Even if they played a doubleheader, he still wouldn't have registered a sack."
Despite Stanley’s dominance, Clemson actually won that game, 24-22. Stanley and Lawson will meet, when the Ravens and Bills open the 2016 season on Sept. 11 at M&T Bank Stadium.
But first, what do the other “experts” think of the Ravens’ newest offensive lineman?
Here’s how various analysts evaluated the Ravens’ No. 6 pick…
- While Gruden sounded bullish on Stanley, his ESPN colleagues didn’t carry strong opinions, positive or negative. Stanley didn’t make Todd McShay’s list of the five best picks or his three riskiest picks. Similarly, colleague Mel Kiper named 20 picks he was “liking” or “questioning,” and Stanley didn’t qualify in either category.
- NFL Network’s Mike Mayock had a strong, favorable opinion about the pick: “I think he compares favorably to the Cowboys' Tyron Smith. That's high praise,” Mayock said. “I saw him play a lot of football at Notre Dame. He's a dancing bear. He was offered several Pac-12 basketball scholarships, so that tells you something about his feet. His pass protection skills are almost as good as Laremy Tunsil's, but right now Stanley is a better run blocker. Plus, Stanley is totally clean off the field, which is about to come into play.”
- NFL.com’s Chad Reuter gave “quick-snap” grades for each team, and put a B on the Ravens’ report card. “The Ravens had several choices here,” he wrote. “The Stanley versus Laremy Tunsil argument will live on for a while, although no one can blame teams for laying off Tunsil. DeForest Buckner was also on the board for the Ravens.”
- CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco gave the pick a B but also expressed reservations. “The Ravens like to run the ball, though. And Ronnie Stanley is not a good run blocker. … I think he’s soft. He’s got to toughen up a bit.”
- Same general range for Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo, who gives the Ravens a B-minus and worries about the run blocking “There had been rumors about Stanley being a top-10 pick, and our No. 16 player on the PFF Draft Board goes No. 6 overall. He’s an excellent pass protector, moving smoothly and rarely getting beaten cleanly. The problem with Stanley’s game is his run blocking where he doesn’t play with great power, but Baltimore’s outside zone scheme is a good fit for his movement skills. Throughout the draft process, we expected to see Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil become the first tackle off the board, but various off-field issues may have dropped him lower than expected. On the field, Tunsil is a better all-around player, but Baltimore went with the safer option in Stanley. Baltimore may release current left tackle Eugene Monroe, but if he comes back, expect Stanley to start on the right where Ricky Wagner struggled last year. While Stanley is a solid player, Baltimore may regret leaving Oregon’s DeForest Buckner on the board.”
- Stanley and the Ravens get a less favorable grade — C-minus — from Walter Cherepinsky, founder of the comprehensive draft site WalterFootball.com. “Over Laremy Tunsil? I wonder if Tunsil's bong picture/video had something to do with this. Still, picking Stanley over Tunsil doesn't make much sense. Some teams told us that they were scared of Stanley's lack of passion for the game. They were also concerned about Stanley not being tough enough. That would terrify me if I drafted him. Plus, passing on Tunsil in the process just doesn't seem like a smart move, given how talented Tunsil is. The Ravens have done well with chracter-issue guys in the past, so I don't really understand this.”
- The Washington Post’s Maske put the Ravens in the category of teams “Who did okay.” Maske writes: “It’s not surprising that the Ravens emerged from this draft with a potential franchise left tackle. It is a bit surprising that they chose [Stanley] over Laremy Tunsil with both available for the No. 6 selection. Tunsil’s difficult night, including the appearance of the instantly infamous Twitter video just before the draft, was well documented. But some teams already had Stanley ranked ahead of Tunsil.”