alejandro-villanueva.png
USATSI

With left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. pursuing a trade, the Ravens have begun the process of finding his possible replacement. One player who may fit the bill is Alejandro Villanueva, a two-time Pro Bowler during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Villanueva and the Ravens are slated to meet this week, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

The 32-year-old lineman was signed by the Steelers in 2014. After spending his first season on the practice squad, the former United States Army Ranger made the 53-man roster entering the 2015 season. Kelvin Beachum's backup at the start of the season, Villanueva was inserted into the starting lineup after Beachum suffered a season-ending injury six games into the season. Villanueva remained in Pittsburgh's starting lineup through the 2020 season. His 97 consecutive starts (including the postseason) are the most by any Steelers player during that span. 

Villanueva earned consecutive Pro Bowl berths in 2017 and in 2018. During that time, he helped the Steelers offense finish third and second in the NFL in passing. The 2018 Steelers set a franchise record for touchdowns scored, as Ben Roethlisberger won his first outright passing title. Villanueva played a significant role in Roethlisberger's vastly improved pass protection over the past six seasons. The third-most-sacked quarterback in league history, Roethlisberger was sacked a career-low 13 times in 2020 while helping the Steelers win their first division title since 2017. 

Brown, a Pro Bowler each of the past two seasons, is seeking a trade after publicly expressing his desire to move from left to right tackle. Brown and the Ravens are reportedly confident that a trade can be executed before the start of the 2021 season. 

"It's a situation where Baltimore knows my plan isn't to play right tackle," Brown said, via NFL.com. "I feel more comfortable on the left side. That's where I had played my whole life (before joining the Ravens). I'm a better left tackle than right tackle."

While the Ravens will likely draft Brown's possible long-term successor next week, Villanueva could be a short-term solution at left tackle. Baltimore needs a reliable player at that position who can help protect Lamar Jackson, who was sacked six more times last season than he was during his MVP campaign. The Ravens are also looking to continue to be one of the league's best rushing attacks after leading the league in that department each of the past two seasons.