Is Ryan Jensen the offensive line’s wild card in 2014?
When Ryan Jensen was selected with the 203rd overall pick in the sixth round of the 2013 draft, you could practically hear the collective response all through Baltimore.
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Jensen didn’t have the kind of pedigree a lot of drafted linemen possess. He attended Division II Colorado State-Pueblo and didn’t go against major competition on a weekly basis. I mean, check out the CSU-Pubelo website – no offense to the ThunderWolves but the site looks like something that would be fancy for a Maryland public high school.
How the Ravens discovered Jensen in the first place and placed him on their radar shows the kind of due diligence that goes into the draft process. Jensen must have had some quality film because he was able to get drafted despite not being invited to the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Game or the NFL Combine. In this Denver Post article dating back to March of 2013, it was reported that all 32 teams visited the tiny school in Colorado to check in Jensen. Clearly he was doing something right.
It only takes one team to like what they see. Certainly more teams had similar grades on Jensen, but the Ravens were the first to act. A broken foot essentially kept him from competing for a regular spot as a rookie. But he’s doing enough now as it is to gain some buzz from organized team activity workouts.
Jensen is an athletic lineman, agile, quick and able to bend well. His scouting reports coming out of college routinely mentioned his mean streak, and that he plays aggressively off of the snap. Drafted as a center, Jensen has since moved to tackle, which is a more familiar position for him as it is. Thing is, based on what John Harbaugh has said, Jensen could potentially be someone that can play all five positions on the offensive line.
Right now, however, the Ravens are working Jensen in at both left and right tackle.
“We’re going to put him in the mix out there and see how he does,” Harbaugh told reporters after a recent OTA practice. “He played tackle in college, so he’s comfortable out there, mentally, it seems like. We’ll see if he’s a fit out there also. It’ll just give us more competition.”
Rick Wagner is penciled in as the starting right tackle at the moment. Jensen’s transition over to right tackle likely means the end for Jah Reid in Baltimore, barring unforeseen improvement or an unexpected rash of injuries moving through the position group.
As it was when Jensen was drafted, not much is truly known of him. He didn’t see any game action on the offensive line last year, with the past week being the most buzz he’s received since arriving in Baltimore. But if there was ever an opportunity for someone like Jensen to step in and take a spot, this would be it.
His top competition is a not-as-athletic Wagner and undrafted free agent James Hurst. The rest of the line appears shored up — enough, at least — to where there should be plenty of improvement from last year’s disaster of a group.
Jensen’s route to the NFL hasn’t been the most ordinary, but he was drafted for a reason. And he may never find a better opportunity than the one that sits in front of him at the present time.
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Jason Butt is a writer and analyst for Baltimore Sports and Life. He also covers the Ravens for SB Nation as the Managing Editor of Baltimore Beatdown . Additionally, Jason is a freelancer in the D.C./Baltimore area, with published works appearing in The Washington Post, Express, CBSSports.com, The Associated Press and The Washington Times. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor of arts in journalism in 2009.