The Baltimore Ravens rounded out their 2023 NFL Draft class by taking a pair of offensive linemen in back-to-back rounds. While the one that garnered more fanfare was USC offensive guard Andrew Vorhees who the team traded back into the seventh round to select, the one with the highest ceiling as a prospect was the one they took the round before.
With what was originally their final pick on Day 3, they selected another former Pac-12 standout in Oregon offensive lineman Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu in the sixth round at No. 199 overall.
His draft slot is also referred to famously as the ‘Tom Brady’ pick since that is where the seven-time Super Bowl champion and future Hall of Fame inductee was drafted in 2000.
While it’s far too early to get the former Duck fitted for a gold jacket, some evaluators believe that the massive 6-foot-5 and 317-pound college tackle is best suited to move inside and play guard at the next level according to The Athleitc’s Jeff Zrebic.
“He’s played some left guard, he’s played some right guard, primarily has been a right tackle,” general manager Eric DeCosta said in a post-draft press conference. “[He is] a very, very good athlete for his size. [He] can pull, can play on his feet.”
He went on to say that they view the fundamentally raw but extremely athletically gifted lineman as a “real strong developmental guy” that possesses “a lot of upside potential”.
“He’s young, and he fits us very, very well,” DeCosta said. ”
Ravens Place High Value on His Positional Flexibility
The team trusts that offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris will find the best spot for him where he can get his career started off on the right foot and refine his craft but believe that he has proven that he is capable of playing multiple spots on the offensive line.
“When you watch him play at Oregon, he played both positions. Some games he’d flip in during series into guard,” Director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said. “I think he can play both.”
As was the case with several of the prospects that the team wound up selecting, Aumavae-Laulu had been on their radar for a couple of years and they were ecstatic to be able to get him in the end because of how he plays their “brand of football”.
“The things that stand out with him [are] he’s huge, he’s got explosive power, knocks guys down on down-blocks,” Hortiz said. “He runs really well for a big man. When you watch him pull or get out on leads on the frontside plays, he can really cover ground. He plays with a great temperament.”
Ravens Want to Build O-Line Pipeline
According to Pro Football Reference, the team has drafted at least one offensive lineman every year since 2003. They love replenishing its depth chart with promising young talent and have a strong track record of developing Day 3 picks into solid to upper-echelon starters in the league.
“We just think it’s good, and you like to have that pipeline of guys every single year, the younger players,” DeCosta said. “Joe D’ does an amazing job developing offensive linemen for us. So, [I am] very happy where we are right now.”
In 2013, they took Rick Wagner in the fifth round out of Wisconsin and Ryan Jensen in the seventh out of Colorado State-Pueblo. Wagner played for nearly a decade, established himself as one of the best right tackles in the league by the time his first contract expired, and started 96 of his 118 career games. Jensen began his career playing guard and tackle but is now one of the best centers in the league and has made a Pro Bowl and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 90 career starts under his belt.
Alex Lewis was taken in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Wisconsin and started 39 of his 44 career games. Jermaine Eluemunor was a fifth-round pick in 2017 out of Texas A&M, has made 31 starts in 70 career games, and has built a reputation for being a solid depth piece and stop-gap starter.
Bradley Bozeman was a sixth-round pick in 2018 and has established himself as one of the better and most versatile interior offensive linemen in the league. He started every game for the Ravens from 2019-2021 as a left guard for two years and at his natural position of center in his final season before leaving in free agency to sign with the Carolina Panthers.
Ben Powers was a fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2019 and started 36 of his 47 career games including all 17 last year after winning the starting left guard job. He cashed in during free agency this offseason with the Denver Broncos which opened up a starting spot on the Ravens’ offensive line that Aumavae-Laulu will have a chance to compete for as a rookie.
The 23-year-old first-year pro couldn’t have asked for a better place to land to begin and potentially jump-start his career outside of maybe the Philadelphia Eagles who also have a renowned offensive line coach and guru Jeff Stoutland.