Baltimore Ravens Sign Bobbie Williams, Likely Starter at Left Guard
Williams is a wily veteran at age 35, with the experience and tenacity to help the Ravens' young group of guards in their development.
More importantly, though, Williams should be considered the likely starter at left guard.
With minor injuries to the previous favorites to start at left guard, Jah Reid and Kelechi Osemele, Williams will almost certainly take first-team snaps right away.
Regardless of Reid's and Osemele's injury status, Williams is by far the most accomplished player at the position, and he is still playing at a high level despite his advanced age.
Williams was among the leaders of an offensive line that paved the way for Cedric Benson's resurgence in Cincinnati over the past few years, and he also played a major role in protecting Andy Dalton so effectively.
The main reason that Williams had to wait so long before signing is almost certainly his age.
The Ravens have a young corps of offensive linemen waiting to take over, with Reid, Osemele and Gino Gradkowski all considered likely starters some day. Even Justin Boren is considered a dark-horse candidate to become a starter.
With such young depth, the Ravens can feel comfortable making a somewhat risky signing in Williams.
The wheels could fall off any time with Williams. At his age, a serious regression in the quality of his play could occur. So while the upside here is pretty high, the floor is pretty low as well.
One advantage of this signing, beyond the quality of Williams' play, is that it hurts the rival Bengals.
Williams could help the Ravens deal with the Bengals' blocking schemes, something they've struggled with occasionally. Few teams are more successful running the ball against the Ravens than the Bengals, though they've struggled in recent matchups.
Further, by signing Williams, the Ravens ensure that the Bengals do not get him back, weakening their offensive line while strengthening the Ravens' own group.
All in all, this is a great signing for the Ravens. It allows them to bring Osemele along slowly, keep Reid from shifting positions and offers some veteran leadership for what is turning into a pretty young offense.
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