Ronnie Stanley Gives the Baltimore Ravens Safety and Upside

Ronnie Stanley projects as the best pass protector in the draft, and the Ravens will ask him to anchor their offensive line.

This offseason, the talk surrounded Laremy Tunsil being the top tackle in the draft, and prior to a couple of huge trades that bumped quarterbacks up to the top of draft boards, he was talked about as a likely first-overall pick.

That started to change a few days before the draft, when word came out that some front offices had Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley as the top tackle on their draft boards. Things got even weirder when, just before the draft started, a video surfaced of Tunsil using drugs. Whether that video had any affect on draft spot will always be a mystery, but Ronnie Stanley was the first tackle off the board, going sixth overall to the Baltimore Ravens.

Stanley is in the middle of the pack when it comes to size for tackles, measuring 6'6" and 312 pounds, though he has exceptional arm length at 35 5/8 inches. He didn't exactly tear up the combine, ranking below the 50th percentile of tackles with his 20-yard shuttle time (4.90 seconds) and his 3-cone drill (8.03 seconds), while he ran a decent but unspectacular 40 yard dash at 5.20 seconds.

He started all 13 games in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons for Notre Dame, developing into a player that ProFootballFocus has described as being "one of the most consistent pass protecting tackles in the nation", while they referred to him as the most natural pass-protector in the class, with exceptional fluidity in his game.

Looking at the most similar player comparisons to Stanley on, there are some impressive names. If we narrow it to players that went in the first two rounds, we get Orlando Franklin, Tyron Smith, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Cedric Ogbuehi.

Player Games Started Percentage of Possible Games* Pro Bowls
Orlando Franklin 73 100% 0
Cedric Ogbuehi 0 0 0
Tyron Smith 75 100% 3
D'Brickashaw Ferguson 160 100% 3

* Percentage of Possible Games excludes games missed due to injury

That is some pretty strong company.

Ogbuehi didn't get a chance to start during his rookie year in 2015, stuck behind all-pro Andrew Whitworth and former first round pick Andre Smith on the depth chart, but the others have all made big impacts in the NFL. Franklin has started 73 games in his first five seasons (every game that he has been healthy enough to play in), Ferguson started all 160 games in his 10-year career, being voted to three Pro Bowls, and Smith has 75 starts in 5 seasons, having been named an All-Pro three times.

This is obviously no guarantee that Stanley excels as a pro, but it does go to show that highly-regarded tackles with his athletic profile and measurables tend to translate well to the next level.

Why He Fits

The Ravens looked like they were going to have a hole at tackle for the 2016 season, with oft-injured left tackle Eugene Monroe looking like a likely cap casualty, and it wasn't a surprise to see them address the offensive line.

Stanley doesn't give much of a boost to the running game, as his strength lies largely in pass protection, which does make the pick a bit of an eyebrow-raiser for a team that finished the 2015 season ranking 30th in our schedule-adjusted Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, but Stanley's exceptional ability in pass protection is more than enough to make up for that.

In Stanley, the Ravens get a guy who is likely going to be a mainstay on their offensive line for years to come and a guy with the ceiling to become the league's premier pass protector at left tackle. It may not be a sexy pick, but it's about as safe as you'll see in the draft, while also coming with a ton of upside.