Ravens look desperate in signing Williams

June, 8, 2012
6/08/12
4:34
PM ET
The addition of former Bengals guard Bobbie Williams reveals how desperate the Baltimore Ravens are at that position.

This shows a lack of confidence in rookie second-round pick Kelechi Osemele and Jah Reid, who were expected to compete for that starting spot. While Williams adds much-needed experience, I'm not sure if Baltimore really improved itself. The Ravens are still going to go from a Pro Bowl guard (Ben Grubbs) to one who will turn 36 in September and is coming off ankle surgery (Williams).

The best-case scenario is that Williams holds up like another former Bengals lineman did in 2008, when Willie Anderson started at right tackle for a Ravens team that went to the AFC Championship Game. But you have to have doubts because the Bengals, who were in desperate need of a guard this offseason, didn't try to keep Williams. Cincinnati signed Jacob Bell, who has since retired, as a backup over bringing back Williams.

“Bobbie is a guy who has been in the league for a long time,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. “We’ve played against him, and we like his style of play and his demeanor as a person and as a player. We’re excited to have him as a member of our team.”

In nine games for the Bengals last season, Williams took a step back as a powerful run blocker but he graded out positively as a pass protector. Williams, who played right guard for the Bengals, might not technically be replacing Grubbs, who played on the left side. If the Ravens go with Williams at right guard, they would move Marshal Yanda to the left.

The Ravens potentially have one of the oldest lines in the league now. They might have three starters in their 30s: Williams, left tackle Bryant McKinnie (32) and center Matt Birk (35).

Baltimore tried to fill the void at left guard in free agency. The Ravens fell a few million short of re-signing Grubbs and couldn't lure Evan Mathis away from the Philadelphia Eagles. Baltimore is also limited in what moves it could make because of limited salary-cap room.

I thought the Ravens would look at former Browns guard Eric Steinbach, who missed all of last season with a back injury. The signing of Williams rules out that move.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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