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Dev's Position Analysis: Offensive Line

RI staffer Dev Panchwagh continues his pre-season Ravens breakdown with a look at the Offensive Line. Click the following links for Dev's recent articles of <A HREF=" http://ravens.theinsiders.com/2/273771.html">QBs, </a><A HREF=" http://ravens.theinsiders.com/2/274196.html">RBs, </a> and <A HREF=" http://ravens.theinsiders.com/2/275092.html">Receivers. </a><br><br>

Lineman: Jonathan Ogden, Edwin Mulitalo, Mike Flynn, Bennie Anderson, Orlando Brown, Casey Rabach, Ethan Brooks, Damion Cook, Brian Rimpf, Tony Pashos

Starter(s): The adage is that an offensive line will continue to improve when continuity is established between the working parts. If that's the case, this unit should be at its most proficient level this season. This will be the second year in a row that this starting core will be together, while four of the five starters (Ogden, Mulitalo, Flynn and Anderson) have played together for two more seasons than that. 

Ogden, generally regarded as the top lineman in the NFL today, is at the head of the class. He's got all of the attributes that you'd want the prototypical blindside tackle to possess: size, quickness, strength, intelligence, great instincts, coordination and length. Ogden can shadow speedier ends or slug it out with the power rushers. In the running game, Ogden is just as good at pushing a pile as he is pulling in space. 

Playing foil to Ogden on the left side for another year in a row is Mulitalo. The former Arizona University standout has evolved into one of the top run blocking guards in the NFL by using his brute strength to win leverage battles at the point of attack. Mulitalo is at his best when he plays inside confined quarters, and he is only an average pass-blocker that struggles to counter double moves.

Mike Flynn is entrenched at the "hub" position. At just a shade over 300 pounds, he is easily the lightest but quickest starter out of the bunch. Flynn's lack of bulk hurts him against bigger defensive lineman, and he will get pushed back in various situations, but he's a smart leader that can pull. 

As a result of Brown's successful comeback from a seemingly career-ending eye injury, the Ravens rewarded him with a multi-year extension to remain the starting right tackle. Brown's strength is as a run blocker. He is so strong that once he locks onto his man, he can clear him out without much trouble, and finish off the block. That said; Brown's pass-blocking skills are mediocre. He's tough to get around, but he isn't that quick, and too often he steps up the field when dropping back. 

Like Brown, Anderson is a capable run blocker. He's got a good punch, but he tends to lean on his man instead of driving him backward. Also, Anderson is a liability in the passing game. Swifter tackles run by him, and his mechanics get broken down too easily when he has to block someone that uses an array of moves. 

Backups: This could be the year in which Casey Rabach finally cracks the starting lineup. Rabach is the top backup at both center and guard spots, but he will push Anderson hard for the job at right guard. Although he lacks ideal strength, Rabach has good quickness and agility. 

Ethan Brooks is the primary backup to Ogden and Brown. Brooks' strength is as a pass- blocker; he uses his hands well and can stay with speed rushers. And by adding around 20 pounds of weight to his 6'6 frame, Brooks should be a stronger player.

Behind Brooks and Rabach is a cast of unknowns. The coaching staff is high on Damion Cook, a player that can line up at all three positions if need be. Cook possesses a nice combination of size, power and aggression. He'll be in the running to replace Bennie Anderson or Casey Rabach if neither player is retained in the 2005 offseason. 

Pashos and Rimpf were highly touted college prospects that were selected in the latter rounds in back-to-back years. Pashos is a tough player with a mean strength, but he needs an injection of quickness, and his footwork gets sloppy at times. Rimpf will be moved from tackle to guard in the NFL, and that move could pay dividends. Rimpf is a good pass blocker that needs to improve his technique in the running game. 

Grade: B



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