Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta is not a patient man, but he’ll have to bide his time when the NFL draft kicks off April 25. The Ravens have the No. 30 overall pick, their latest first-round slot in over a decade, and DeCosta knows the team’s options will be limited by then.

“If you’re picking 28th or 30th,” he said Tuesday, “you might only have 15 or 20 guys that you really want.”

So what will the Ravens do when they’re finally on the clock? Over the next two weeks, The Baltimore Banner will make the case for how DeCosta should handle the Ravens’ first-round pick, from rebuilding their offensive line to bolstering their secondary to moving around the draft board.

Today, we make the case for Oklahoma offensive tackle Tyler Guyton.

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The need

Instability at tackle has been inescapable in recent Ravens seasons. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley has missed 36 games since 2020. Right tackle Morgan Moses, traded last month to the New York Jets, missed more games last season than he had over his previous eight. The last time both Ravens starting tackles played at least 14 games in a season was 2019, when Stanley was at his All-Pro peak and Orlando Brown Jr. was only in his second year in Baltimore.

More change is on the horizon. With his newly restructured deal, Stanley is set to reach free agency next year, a year earlier than expected. Swing tackle Patrick Mekari is in the final year of his extension, too. And Daniel Faalele’s credentials as a starting-caliber right tackle are unclear; the former fourth-round pick has played just 356 offensive snaps over his first two seasons.

This is a good year to need help, though, and the Ravens need it at both tackle and guard, where they lost starters John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler in free agency. DeCosta on Tuesday called the draft “pretty stacked across the board” with offensive line talent “in most rounds.” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former Ravens scout, has eight tackles and three interior linemen ranked among his top 50 overall prospects in this year’s class.

“I certainly think it’s a big factor for us in terms of team building this year,” said DeCosta, who noted that Ravens officials spent all of Monday reviewing and ranking offensive line prospects. “It’s a very deep pool of players. We see a lot of different opportunities in different rounds to get players at tackle, guard and center, and we’re excited about that.”

The depth of edge rusher talent in the AFC North only heightens the Ravens’ need for reliable pass protection. The Cleveland Browns’ Myles Garrett, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is signed through 2026. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J. Watt, the NFL’s DPOY in 2021, as well as the Cincinnati Bengals’ Trey Hendrickson, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, are under contract through 2025. Quarterback Lamar Jackson can conjure only so much sack-avoiding magic.

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The draft range

Eight offensive linemen could be taken before Guyton in the first round — and he still might not be available at No. 30.

Four tackles project as top-20 locks: Notre Dame’s Joe Alt, Penn State’s Olu Fashanu, Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga and Washington’s Troy Fautanu. Another four linemen — Alabama tackle J.C. Latham, Georgia tackle Amarius Mims, Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson and Duke tackle/guard Graham Barton — could be snatched up soon after.

But the mid-20s run on tackles could include Guyton, too. Along with the Ravens, he’s been linked to the Dallas Cowboys (No. 24), Green Bay Packers (No. 25) and San Francisco 49ers (No. 31), who might be tempted to trade up to land a tackle opposite star Trent Williams. According to ESPN’s draft predictor, there’s only about a 40% chance that Guyton will be on the board at No. 30.

The fit

The 6-foot-8, 322-pound Guyton’s massive potential is all the more tantalizing because of how quickly he’s realized some of it. As a high school senior, Guyton was a defensive lineman. Three years ago, he was a jumbo-size tight end at TCU. In 2022, he started just five games along Oklahoma’s offensive line. Last season, he didn’t allow a sack in 350-plus pass-blocking snaps at right tackle, according to Pro Football Focus.

“He’s got all the ability in the world,” Sooners offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh told reporters last April. “He’s one of the most talented guys I’ve ever seen, and we’ve had some pretty talented guys come through here.”

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Physically, Guyton profiles as a first-round talent. Among tackles, he tested in the upper third in the 40-yard dash (5.19 seconds, 69th percentile) and 10-yard split in the 40-yard dash (85th percentile), as well as the broad jump (73rd percentile), three-cone drill (87th percentile) and vertical jump (98th percentile).

Guyton’s basketball roots — he played through high school, and his dad played in college — are obvious in pass protection. Guyton’s fluid movement skills made it nearly impossible for Big 12 Conference pass rushers to turn the corner against him. Despite often playing out on an island in Oklahoma’s spread offense, he allowed just 12 quarterback pressures (three hits, nine hurries) in 2023, according to PFF.

Even when Guyton lost early in his pass-blocking snaps, oversetting against speedy defenders or lunging at fakes, he could recover easily. Guyton’s solid length (56th-percentile wingspan among tackles) and loose hips kept pass rushers from taking easy paths to the quarterback.

Despite his inexperience, Guyton also played with an understanding and awareness of pass rush games. In a win over Oklahoma State last season, he calmly passed off a defensive lineman crashing inside, then moved on to a blitzing slot defender, slowing his approach, before shuffling back to cut off a blitzing inside linebacker.

On running plays, Guyton showed the strength to wash out interior linemen on down blocks and the agility to climb nimbly to the second level, whether it was as a back-side blocker on zone concepts or as a puller on gap concepts. According to Sports Info Solutions, he had just one blown block on 294 run-blocking snaps last season, one of the Big 12′s lowest rates (0.3%).

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The red flags

Guyton has started just 14 games and played just 1,083 career snaps along the offensive line, according to PFF. Besides Mims, whose freakish traits will almost certainly convince some team in the first round to overlook his injury history and limited workload (803 career snaps), every other Day 1 and Day 2 tackle prospect in this year’s draft has played at least 1,300 snaps.

That inexperience shows up in Guyton’s tape. He suffered from a passive approach in his pass sets; at times, Guyton seemed almost determined to win repetitions with his footwork alone, using his punch almost as a last resort after pass rushers engaged him.

Guyton has good knee bend for a 6-8 lineman, but he was prone to technical breakdowns. He had trouble sustaining blocks and, in the run game, rarely finished them with violence. His upright playing style led to trouble against power rushes. On run-pass-option plays and play-action drop-backs, he could quickly find himself out of position. And in space he struggled to quickly identify defenders in his path.

But Guyton has room to grow and, as he moves on to the NFL, he should get even stronger. There will be a learning curve, especially as he trades Oklahoma’s up-tempo, RPO-heavy offense for a more conventional playbook. If Guyton is needed at left tackle — he was actually the blind-side protection for southpaw Dillon Gabriel last season — the transition, early on, could be even more challenging.

Nothing about the Ravens’ offensive line overhaul will be easy, though. They haven’t drafted a tackle in the first round since 2016, and Guyton is not the blue-chip prospect that Stanley was when he was taken No. 6 overall that year. Guyton’s evaluation requires far more projection, and his path to playing time requires far more development. But the tools are there for Guyton to start with Stanley in 2024 — and maybe to replace him in 2025.

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Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring.

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