Welcome to the nest: OT Kelechi Osemele - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Welcome to the nest: OT Kelechi Osemele

What you need to know about him: Kelechi Osemele, a 22-year-old native of Houston, Texas, is 6-foot-6 and 333 pounds. He played at Iowa State, where he played in 49 games, which included a string of 43 straight starts – 38 at left tackle and five at left guard. He was named first-team All-Big 12 this past season. He posted 299 knockdowns and posted 49 blocks that resulted in touchdowns.

Why the Ravens picked him in the second round, No. 60 overall: Because they had to address the vacancy created at left guard after Pro Bowler Ben Grubbs signed a five-year, $36 million deal with $16 million guaranteed with the Saints.

Cause for concern: He played tackle at Iowa State and likely will be asked to shift to guard. He also could have likely been selected in the third round. But he has a good body for an offensive lineman, considering he has an 85.5-inch wingspan that lets him gain separation from defenders.

Significance of his selection: It sets up Jah Reid (6-foot-7, 335 pounds), a third-round pick last year, vs.  Osemele, with the winner claiming the starting spot at left guard. This is a huge battle since Grubbs’ performance at left guard was vital to the Ravens’ success. The Ravens ran 95 plays – the most in the NFL last season – off left guard and averaged 4.76 yards per play, fifth-highest in the league. When they ran off left tackle, they averaged 4.71 yards (13th), over center 3.32 yards (31st), right guard 3.98 yards (16th) and right tackle 5.14 yards (12th). The Ravens averaged a league-high 9.82 yards when they ran 22 plays around left end, but with Grubbs gone, can that be expected to continue this season? Reid played in 16 games last year, with no starts.

Crystal ball: It’s murky. Osemele didn’t really dominate the Big 12, which isn’t exactly a good sign. But the Ravens have a proven track record with molding linemen, considering Grubbs came to Baltimore as a first-round pick in 2007 and departed as a Pro Bowler.

In his words: “I feel like I bring a lot of competitiveness and physicality and aggressiveness to this team,” Osemele told the team’s website. “I just want to get in there and compete from Day 1 and try to fit where I may. I’ll let the [chips] fall where they may and try to make this team better. “I played a lot of guard at the Senior Bowl and I dominated. So regardless of where I am [guard or tackle], I’ll be physical like I always am.”

Director of player personnel Eric DeCosta on Osemele: “At the Senior Bowl, he was one of the better offensive linemen there. We had an opportunity to watch him all week. We saw a big, physical guy with very, very long arms who moves well on his feet. He’s strong.”

Coach John Harbaugh on where he sees Osmele competing: “Left guard or right tackle. Just let those guys compete and see also who meshes better where with Jah being in the mix, also Michael Oher being in the mix, Bryant McKinnie being in the mix. It gives us some competition and we like that.”

Did you know? Osemele’s selection makes him the highest Iowa State player to be drafted since guard Keith Sims was taken 39th overall by the Dolphins in 1990.

(Feature photo courtesy Iowa State)


About the author

Jon Gallo

Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game. Contact the author.
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