OWINGS MILLS – Will Ronnie Stanley make his Ravens debut at left tackle or left guard?
Stanley was drafted No. 6 overall to be the Ravens’ long-term fixture at left tackle. But in the short term, the Ravens must decide if moving Stanley to left guard, and keeping Eugene Monroe for another season at left tackle, would be better or worse for the entire offensive line.
The Ravens don’t need to make a hasty decision on whether to cut or keep Monroe, who is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Remember, if they cut Monroe, the Ravens are a lot thinner at left tackle if something happens to Stanley. Once Monroe is healthy, the Ravens can see how he performs before determining his fate.
Playing Stanley at left guard could also fill the void created when left guard Kelechi Osmele signed with the Raiders during free agency. John Urschel and Rick Wagner are expected to compete for the starting left guard job, but Stanley’s talent could make him the best option.
Stanley played both left tackle and right tackle at Notre Dame, but his only action at guard came during a spring game. However, Stanley was not opposed to the idea of switching to guard during his Ravens’ debut press conference Friday at team headquarters.
“I can handle it,” Stanley said of playing guard. “Wherever the coaches put me that they see fit, that’s where I’ll play.”
Ravens offensive line coach Juan Castillo believes competing with Monroe could accelerate Stanley’s development.
“We’re going to let Ronnie go in there and compete with Eugene,” Castillo said. “We want to play the best five players. Ronnie is a very good athlete, good player, so is Eugene. So we let them compete. We’re going to play the five best guys. The Ravens are all about competition. Coach (John) Harbaugh talks about that. It just makes everybody better.
Castillo believes Stanley has the skill set to play guard, despite his lack of experience there.
"Jonathan Ogden did that (played guard) his first year,” said Castillo, referring to the Hall of Fame left tackle who had a legendary career with the Ravens. “You draft tackles because they’re the better athletes. You stick them inside at guard, a lot of times what happens for those tackles, they say, ‘Whoa, it’s a lot easier inside. There’s not as much green to be able to cover.’"
Eventually, the Ravens expect Stanley to be their starting left tackle. But Monroe may not have lost the job just yet.