Last night the Baltimore Ravens took Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley with the number six overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The hype surrounding the first round was certainly felt by Ravens fans up until Baltimore made their selection. With the top two teams – the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles – both taking quarterbacks, the action really started when the San Diego Chargers got on the clock at pick number three.
San Diego ended up taking Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, who many expected to fall to the Ravens at number six. Another Ohio State player – running back Ezekiel Elliott, was picked by the Dallas Cowboys who had the fourth pick.
After the Cowboys made their selection, Ravens fans really started to bite their fingernails. Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey, often thought of as the best player in the entire 2016 draft class, was still on the board. With only one pick left to go until Baltimore got on the clock, Ravens fans started getting vivid thoughts about Ramsey manning the Ravens’ secondary alongside Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle.
However, those dreams were crushed, smashed and obliterated when the Jacksonville Jaguars took Ramsey at pick number five.
This was not the end of the world for the Ravens. With many solid players left on the board, including offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, linebacker Miles Jack and defensive end DeForest Buckner, just to name a few, the Ravens had some options.
Then Baltimore pulled a surprise out of their sleeve and took Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.
The decision to take an offensive tackle was not a surprise. The Ravens have an obvious need on the blind side with tackle Eugene Monroe constantly missing games with several injuries. Monroe’s injuries last season hurt the Ravens, particularly when backup tackle James Hurst was pushed into Joe Flacco in the week 11 game against the Rams. Hurst landed on Flacco’s left knee, which resulted in Flacco’s ACL tear.
The Ravens also signed Monroe to a five-year, $37.5 million deal after the 2013 season, and Monroe has missed half the games the Ravens have played since signing that contract. He has been too unreliable for the Ravens to count on him protecting Flacco’s blind side, and the Ravens are hoping Stanley can provide some stability to the offensive line.
Keep in mind that the Ravens also signed Flacco to a six year contract extension this offseason, so they obviously want a long-term solution at the left tackle position to prevent possible injuries to Flacco like we saw last season.
The reason why many analysts are calling this pick a surprise is that the Ravens passed on Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Tunsil was projected by many to be the top offensive tackle in this year’s draft. Some experts went as far to say that Tunsil was the top offensive player in the entire draft. However, just before the NFL Draft started, a video emerged online of Tunsil smoking weed out of a gas mask (you can read my post covering that story on BUNow). With a possible PR nightmare lingering with Tunsil, the Ravens decided to go with a guy with no off-field baggage who could fill a need – and that guy was Stanley.
After the Ray Rice debacle two years ago, the Ravens had their hands tied when the video of Tunsil smoking weed emerged. Even if Tunsil was ranked higher on the Ravens’ draft board than Stanley, Ozzie Newsome made a point that at the time the Ravens made their pick, Stanley was their highest rated offensive tackle.
The Ravens were the first team to pass on Tunsil, but were not the only team to pass on him; he dropped all the way down to pick number 13 when the Miami Dolphins took him. It is a shame that Tunsil is a victim of a potentially career-changing hoax, but it is understandable to see why the Ravens did not go with him, even if he is the better player of the two.
Another issue that analysts have with this pick is that the Ravens did not solve their problem of drafting a play-making, impact player. Baltimore has serious holes on their roster, lacking play-makers on both sides of the ball. That was not addressed with this pick. Sure, Stanley provides stability on a very important part of the offense, but he is not going to catch any touchdown passes or rack up turnovers for the Ravens.
Additionally, some are bringing up is the fact that Stanley is not a hard-nosed bruiser of an offensive tackle. Aside from Marshall Yanda, the Ravens do not have offensive lineman that necessarily intimidate defensive lineman. Some of the players Baltimore has on their line are stereotyped as “soft,” including Eugene Monroe. Mike Preston of The Baltimore Sun even compared Stanley to Eugene Monroe on “The Norris and Davis Show” this morning on 105.7 THE FAN.
This pick makes for an interesting training camp battle this summer between Eugene Monroe and Ronnie Stanley for the starting left tackle position. Because Monroe is still under his big contract, it would not be a surprise to see him get a shot. However, with his injuries and recent social media rants about allowing NFL players to use medical marijuana, it is hard to tell if the Ravens want to put up with him any longer.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that Stanley would have to earn his job just like any other player, but the Ravens now have their highest first round pick since 2000 when Baltimore drafted Jamal Lewis at pick number five.
The second and third rounds of the NFL Draft take place tonight, starting at 7:00 pm. Rounds 4-7 take place tomorrow, starting at noon.