Ravens ‘Reliable’ Free Agent Tipped for NFC North Move

Ben Powers and Kenyan Drake

Getty The Ravens are tipped to lose a "reliable" free agent to the NFC North.

Swapping the AFC North for the NFC North. That’s the dilemma one of the key free agents for the Baltimore Ravens is tipped to face this offseason.

This “reliable” starter is among the top 10 players in the NFL at his position in 2022, but one writer believes an NFC North team should offer a deal. This underachieving franchise may need to replace a free agent of their own, and also add a blocker more suited to the “run-heavy attack” that best fits their personnel.

Versatile, Top-10 Raven Ideal for Sleeping Giant

Ben Powers should be at the top of the shopping list for the Green Bay Packers, according to Bo Wulf of The Athletic.  Wulf thinks “if Elgton Jenkins cashes in elsewhere as a free agent, the Packers will need to find a reliable starting guard. Powers has started at both guard positions for the Ravens over the past three seasons and entered the week ranked in the top 10 of ESPN’s run-block win rate for all guards — a plus if Green Bay is willing to lean further into a run-heavy attack.”

That last point about the Pack emphasizing the run more is intriguing on multiple levels. First, it would make sense for running backs as talented as Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Second, Aaron Rodgers is no longer the force he was at quarterback, with the 39-year-old banged up and the subject of retirement and trade rumors.

If Rodgers calls it quits, the Packers will surely transition their offense accordingly, and acquiring Powers would be a great start. He’s thriving in both phases of the game, with Ryan Mink of Ravens.com citing grades from PFF that list Powers as the best pass-protecting guard in the league:

Powers also shares the most-effective run-blocking success rate among interior linemen, according to ESPN Analytics and Next Gen Stats. He’s winning 78 percent of the time, a number he shares with Landon Dickerson of the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears’ starter Cody Whitehair.

Naturally, the Ravens will want to keep one of the hidden gems on their roster, but they’ll be aware he’s starting to garner league-wide attention.

4th-Rounder Finally Getting Noticed

Powers has become an integral part of how the Ravens run the ball. The team’s fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft is often responsible for the decisive block to spring big gains, like on this touchdown run by Kenyan Drake against the New York Giants in Week 6, highlighted by Fox Baltimore’s Rocco DiSangro:

Powers was leading the way as a pulling guard, a ploy offensive coordinator Greg Roman has become fond of calling each week. No. 72 was also on the move against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14, springing Gus Edwards for a key gain to help ice a 16-14 win, per Mink:

Powers admitted on a recent edition of The Lounge podcast for Ravens.com that when these plays are called, “I’m excited. Instantly. Let’s go Let’s get it.” He also said “I love pulling because that gets me to the point of attack, and it allows me to be in the play even when I’m running to the right, as a left guard, so that’s something I really enjoy.”

Plays like these are at the heart of everything the Ravens do on offense. Roman’s pin-and-pull concepts require powerhouse blockers able to combine mammoth size with deceptive mobility. Powers, at 6’4″ and 338 pounds, more than fits the bill.

That’s why he’s credited by Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger as a free agent who’s boosted his stock: “This is good timing for Powers hitting the market as a quality left guard in a free agent class lacking talent at the position, with his career-high 87.1 pass-blocking grade the best mark among all guards in 2022. Powers has yet to miss an offensive snap through Week 14 and has allowed a quarterback pressure on just 1.8% of dropbacks, the second-lowest mark among guards, with zero sacks surrendered on the season.”

The Ravens usually don’t like shelling out to retain their own, but general manager Eric DeCosta should make an exception for Powers. Lamar Jackson will need a quality pass-protector in front of him if DeCosta can finally agree a new contract with the franchise quarterback.

Baltimore’s offense will stay committed to the run whether Jackson stays or goes, so there are two good reasons to keep a space for Powers on next year’s roster.

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