With Ravens and NFL fans awaiting a potential Orlando Brown trade after he requested so earlier in the off season, the Ravens and Chiefs finally struck a deal less than a week away from the NFL draft. Brown, 24 years old, wanted out of Baltimore after the team informed him they wanted him to return to his right tackle position next season with Ronnie Stanley returning to protect Lamar’s blindside. The Chiefs, who had an opening at tackle after releasing former #1 overall pick Eric Fisher. The trade included the Ravens sending in Brown, their 2021 second round pick and 2022 sixth round pick in exchange for the Chiefs 2021 first, third and 4th round pick along with a 2022 4th round pick.
Preparing for the 2018 draft, Orlando Brown was viewed as a high-round pick by many until his dreadful combine performance, which led to him falling to the 3rd round where the Ravens selected him with the 83rd pick, just after they drafted college teammate Mark Andrews earlier that round. Brown didn’t start right away his rookie season but took over after a few weeks at right tackle. While Brown stepped in and exceeded expectations for a third-round rookie, the hype of the team was centered around rookie sensation Lamar Jackson who led a historic offense taking over for Joe Flacco. Heading into 2019, Brown had secured his spot at right tackle, starting all 16 games blocking in front of the league MVP that season. Brown continued to play well playing next to future hall of fame guard Marshall Yanda, who aided Brown in receiving a pro-bowl appearance as an alternate and would retire in the offseason, leaving Brown on more of an island with the Ravens having a void at the guard position in 2020. Understandably with Yanda gone, Brown and the right side of the line struggled a bit early on in the season but the Ravens line as a whole remained a solid unit and was a big reason why the team started off 5-1 heading into their biggest game of the season to that point against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. That game ended up being a turning point in Orlando Brown’s career as all-pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley suffered a season-ending injury, forcing Orlando Brown to flip over to left tackle.
Orlando Brown would have an up and down remaining of the season individually, as he did at the start of the season at right tackle without Yanda. The offensive line as a whole struggled after Stanley went down, which ultimately ended up being the downfall of the team in the playoffs. Brown did end up making his 2nd straight pro bowl for what it’s worth due to the teams run game during the final stretch of the season, however that does not tell the story of his play.
Although not entirely his fault, it was clear that the loss of Yanda affected Brown’s performance in a negative way. Brown had some struggles in pass protection, allowing pressure on 6% of snaps, most of which showed up in the team’s biggest games of the season in Cleveland, Tennessee, and Buffalo. Brown displays a lot of stiffness in his lower half in pass protection which allows him to lose against speed on the edge and has been a below-average run blocker, particularly in space where his lack of athleticism is on display. Brown does possess excellent length, which he uses when getting squared and engaged with pass rushers but he is hit or miss in terms of gaining leverage at the point of attack. Overall, while I don’t think Brown is necessarily a pro bowl caliber player, he is an average quality starting tackle, which is valuable in the NFL when paired with an all-pro on the other side like Stanley.
During the offseason, conflict arose with Brown and the organization regarding his desire to stay on the left side, despite the team signing Stanley to a mega extension earlier in the season. The Ravens obviously weren’t going to do that to Stanley, who is a much better player, and began to shop Brown, who himself was an upcoming free agent after next season. While most NFL players are willing to play out of position in order to benefit the team, Brown’s standpoint frustrated the fans and front office and the team had no leverage against him. After a few months of offers, the Ravens essentially moved up from their second-round pick to the 31st pick while also gaining a few third and fourth-rounders.
With an extension looming and Brown not wanting to play for the Ravens, they did a good job getting rid of him and receiving valuable draft capital. While some fans and analysts anticipating he would be traded for more, I think he was being a bit overvalued. I don’t see the Ravens picking at 31 on draft day, as I see Decosta wanting to trade down or possibly have the gap between the 27th and 31st wider by trading up to higher in the first round while moving back into the 2nd. The Ravens have opened up another gap at right tackle, but they are already eyeing former Steeler Alejandro Villanueva and former Titan Dennis Kelly as veteran replacements for 2021 and will likely look to address their other needs in the draft.