Aging Ravens O-Line Cause For Concern?

July 04, 2012 | Melissa Rubin

They say age makes for experience, but can your age work against you in the rough and tumble sport of football?  According to ESPN’s senior writer, John Clayton, an aging Baltimore Ravens offensive line may work against them.

Clayton recently wrote about his “Theory of 150” for O-Lines.  His theory maintains:

“If a team lets its starting offensive line exceed the total age of 150 years for five starters, the clock is ticking on its remaining success.”

In addition, As with anything, the “Theory of 150” is more relevant for some teams than others. The line is a position group where younger isn’t always better; the fading of speed and athletic ability don’t affect linemen as much as running backs, receivers and other skill positions.

If Clayton is right about his theory, should the Ravens be worried about their aging O-Line? The line consists of Ravens veteran center Matt Birk and recently signed Bobbie Williams, both 35, Bryant McKinnie is 32, while Michael Oher is 26 and Marshall Yanda is 27.

Combined, their ages equal 155, a bit over Clayton’s 150, but it is enough to sound the alarm?

He gives an example of how it was time for the Minnesota Vikings to revamp their O-Line. According to Clayton, last year’s starters had the combined of age of 147. The Vikings made some changes by drafting LT Matt Kahil and moving Charlie Johnson to left guard decreasing the combined age of their O-Line to make them one of the youngest in the NFC North.

This offseason, the Ravens only lost one O-Line player, G Ben Grubbs, who went to New Orleans. The battle to fill Grubbs’ position will take place during training camp and his vacant spot will be filled by a younger player. The battle will be between second-year linemen Jah Reid and Justin Boren and rookies G Kelechi Osemele and C/G Gino Gradkowski.

To the contrary, Oher believes that the O-Line is the best of his career.

“Trust me, people don’t have anything to worry about,” Oher said. “This is the most confident I’ve been in our group. I really like the pieces in our room.”

Pro Bowl guard, Marshall Yanda also believes in the 2012 O-Line adding that there is more depth with this group with the offseason additions to the roster.

“We definitely have enough guys where if someone goes down, or if something happens, then we know we’ll have enough depth,” Yanda said. “It’s early in this thing yet, obviously we haven’t even started training camp yet, so we’ll see what happens. They got enough guys so we can make it work and have a successful line.“

The aging O-Line concerns me, but I’m not overly worried about it. I like that general manager and recruiting genius Ozzie Newsome drafted Osemele and Gradkowski, who stand a chance at starting this season. Both will have the opportunity to learn from their Pro Bowl teammates and I have faith that they can make an impact this season.

And while aging players are more prone to injury, I agree with Yanda, there is enough depth to replace injured players.

The flip side of having an aging O-line is that the wheels are in motion for the Ravens to have a young line in future seasons. Matt Birk is likely to retire after this season and his replacement is likely to one of the rookies. Plus the Ravens are sure to draft more offensive linesmen in the next year converting the aging O-line into a young and rejuvenated one.

What do you think? Should we be concerned about the O-line?