Preston: Ronnie Stanley doesn't fill the Ravens' biggest needs

It's too early in the draft to say the Ravens' first round pick was poor, but it wasn't sexy and they didn't address the major problems on defense.

For about 15 minutes Thursday night, there was hope that maybe Florida State University defensive back Jalen Ramsey would fall to the Ravens with the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL draft.

Then he went to Jacksonville at No. 5. And then a lot of hope was gone.


It's too early in the draft to say the Ravens' first round pick was poor, but it wasn't sexy and they didn't address the major problems on defense.

After it was announced that the Ravens had taken Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley in the first round, I wondered if he could switch to outside linebacker and put pressure on Ben Roethlisberger or Tom Brady.

I wanted to know if he could cover a receiver, which the Ravens couldn't do in their loss to the New England Patriots in a divisional shootout two years ago.

The Ravens had a chance to select Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner or Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, which would have at least helped out their defense in some capacity, but they opted for Stanley.

He was a "clean" pick.

It's somewhat of a strange pick, but not out of the ordinary. According to a team source, the Ravens didn't think Stanley was worthy of the No. 6 pick a month ago. But when the stock of Mississippi's offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil started to drop within the last few days, the Ravens went with Stanley, more of a safe choice.

They rated Tunsil higher, but they couldn't defend selecting a player who faces domestic chargers and had a curious video posted Thursday night of what appears to be him smoking a questionable substance through a gas mask.

Maybe if former Ravens running back Ray Rice hadn't been involved in a highly publicized domestic abuse, the Ravens would have chosen Tunsil, but not now. The fallout would have been too much.

I still would have taken Buckner or Lawson. The Ravens need a pass rusher, and those types of players are hard to find, which is why Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa was taken by San Diego with the No. 3 overall pick.

With both outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil showing signs of age and Suggs trying to recover from a second ruptured Achilles tendon, the Ravens needed to find another young, exciting pass rusher.

It didn't have to be an outside linebacker, but a player who could be moved along the line of scrimmage, or collapse a pocket like either Lawson or Buckner. Imagine Lawson or Buckner along with current defensive linemen Timmy Jernigan, Brandon Williams and Carl Davis.

That's a strong group. The Ravens would have had a chance to start getting their swagger back on defense.

There were some early rumblings that the Ravens liked both, but apparently they either like Stanley more on the field, or he was just more of a "clean player" off it.

When a team takes a player in the top five or six, he better be a player they can build around, like a Jonathan Ogden, a Peter Boulware or Terrell Suggs.


I'm not feeling it with Stanley. He is safe. He is certainly no Ogden, the Ravens' Hall of Fame offensive tackle, but few players are.

Most of the draft reports rate Stanley as a good player, one who has great feet and balance. He can pull and is versatile enough to play left guard if needed.

But the consistent knock on him was that he didn't always play with intensity, and he needed to be more physical. Is that a player a team takes at No. 6? Aren't players taken this high supposed to be dominating, especially at left offensive tackle?

The Ravens are in need of impact players, especially on defense, and they came away with a "safe" player.

I've always been an advocate of getting good offensive linemen and firmly believe they can control the pace of any game. But after watching the Ravens the past two years, it's hard to believe they didn't come away with a pass rusher or a cornerback in the first round.

Bosa was gone at No. 3 and Ramsey went at No. 5. It was one of the worst-case scenarios for the Ravens. They probably stayed on the phone during their 10 minutes on the clock, searching for a possibility to move down. But apparently there were no takers, at least none offering the Ravens enough to make a deal.

So they filled a need and got Stanley. And we'll hear all this praise about how he'll protect quarterback Joe Flacco's blind side for years to come.

But after the first day of the NFL draft, the Ravens still have two big holes, the same ones that have haunted them the past two years. They still don't have a defensive player anyone fears or has to plan around.

They filled a need but not their top priority. It has to get better in Day 2, or the 2016 season might be a rerun of the previous two years.