The right tackle position has been one of great turnover for the Baltimore Ravens in recent years. In 2016, Ricky Wagner controlled the position, but the demand for a capable tackle in Detriot lured him out of Baltimore. The Ravens replaced him with Austin Howard late in the process last year. Howard, in his single season with the Baltimore Ravens, performed admirably, but the organization opted to move on from the 31-year-old. This left a gap at right tackle for the Ravens. As many expected the recently resigned James Hurst to take over the position, the Ravens made a big splash in the draft by adding Orlando Brown Jr. in the third round. Brown’s father played with the Ravens as an offensive lineman, and the Ravens felt the draft prospect, bad combine and all, would fit well on the team. This has generated a sparsely watched competition, but one of great importance.
The Ravens offensive line has been subject to inconsistencies in the past few years. However, the Ravens have consistently found ways to maximize the production of the players they possess along with the line. Homegrown talents such as Ricky Wagner and Ryan Jensen became some of the best at their respective positions, neither being a high draft pick. Brown, a third-round pick, is in a unique situation. Brown was seen by many as an obvious first-round pick heading into the draft season. However, the Oklahoma offensive lineman tremendously underperformed at the NFL Combine last March. His stock fell through the floor as a consequence.
Many disagree on whether or not his results at the NFL Combine are important. His college game tape certainly suggests the contrary. The Ravens front office obviously saw the raw talent Brown has and selected him in the third round in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough. If the pattern continues its course, the Ravens should be able to transform Brown from a third-round pick into a star tackle. However, unlike the other Baltimore training offensive linemen, Brown has much more talent coming out of college. This gives Brown an opportunity that none of the others had, to start in his first year.
Brown is competing with James Hurst, who has proved to be a reliable offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. Hurst may not be much of a flashy player, but his versatility is a major asset for the Ravens, and key for Orlando Brown. Hurst can play in any position along the line, and the Ravens would not be afraid to place him at guard should a situation call for it. This gives Brown a greater chance of starting at right tackle, as Hurst may find a starting job elsewhere along the line. Brown has received quite a bit of time playing with the starters, giving more credence to the hypothesis that he could start this season. He’s even remade his body composition in hopes of winning the starting job and succeeding in the NFL. While it is too early to make any predictions, it is certainly plausible that Brown seizes the starting job before the start of his rookie year.