Why Ben Bredeson can compete for Marshal Yanda's spot on the offensive line

Andrew Gillis
NBC Sports Washington

Ed Warinner didn't recruit Ben Bredeson. He recruited his mother. 

Warinner was the Ohio State offensive line coach when he recruited the Hartland, Wisconsin native. Or, more accurately, he showed up at Bredeson's high school to talk with his mom who was a volunteer at the school - meaning Warinner wasn't breaking any NCAA violations. 

Bredeson, however, chose Michigan, which was the school his brother played baseball at. And as fate would have it, Warinner ended up at Michigan for the final two years of Bredeson's career.

It wasn't exactly how Warinner thought he'd end up coaching Bredeson, but it worked out all the same.

"He's a joy to be around, he's a leader," Warinner said. "He likes everyone, has a great personality. He's the kind of individual I'd want my daughter to marry. Very smart and hard-working, very competitive, and the ultimate team player. He was a two-time captain for us. He's the total package as a football player, as a person, just someone who will be a joy to have in the building every day."

Bredeson, who weighed in at 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds at the NFL Combine, played in 51 games at left guard as a Wolverine and compiled 46 starts. He was named first-team All-Big Ten in his senior season in 2019 and was a two-time team captain. 

While he played the majority of his time at left guard, he practiced in 2019 to be the team's center, should the starter, Cesar Ruiz, go down with an injury.

Now in Baltimore, the two spots open in the starting lineup are the two Bredeson didn't start a game at in college.

"I feel comfortable in all interior spots, left guard, center or right guard," Bredeson said on a video call with the media Monday afternoon. "I'm just going to go wherever I'm the best fit for the team." 

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As for swapping from the left to the right, Warinner doesn't expect that transition to matter much to Bredeson.

"He's a pretty good athlete, I don't think playing left or right will matter," Warinner said. "Ben took a lot of time in practice behind the scenes, not in games, but preparing to be a center. I think his transition there, if they said, ‘We need him to be our center,' they can get him ready in a week or two to play center. He's already broken ground on that, he knows the fundamentals. He's actually pretty good at it."

And while Bredeson's ability to play all three interior offensive line positions was attractive to the Ravens, it was his style of play that made the most sense.

He'll compete with Matt Skura (if healthy), Patrick Mekari, Ben Powers, D.J. Fluker and fellow rookie Tyre Phillips to start at right guard for the first week of the season. Otherwise, he'll be fighting for a depth role.

Bredeson weighed in at 315 pounds for the combine, but Warinner said he played at 325 or 330 pounds in his senior season. He's a physical blocker in the run game and fits the Ravens' mold of an offensive lineman perfectly.

"He was very durable, played almost 1,000 snaps each of the last two years without any issues," Warinner said. "He's a rugged guy and he likes contact. He's not a finesse player. He'll come after you and be aggressive. He's a really good fit for what they want to do running the football."

Bredeson, like all rookies, has begun the process of the virtual offseason for the Ravens. With that, he's gotten to know John Harbaugh, the older brother to his former coach at Michigan, Jim Harbaugh. 

"There's a lot of similarities, each of them has their own tweaks to how they run their own program, but you can definitely see a lot of glaring similarities between the two," Bredeson said. "Just kind of the way the playbook is set up, the way the program is being run, their mannerisms because a lot of them are the same. It's comforting for me knowing I'm still in the Harbaugh family."

At Michigan, they'll have to fill a four-year starter's role, a player who was a leader in offseason workouts and someone who was a calming presence along the offensive line. 

In Baltimore, that's exactly what the Ravens are getting.

"When you jog out of the tunnel and he's next to you, you feel pretty good about your chances," Warinner said. "Those are huge shoes to fill."

Bredeson was one of ten members of the team's 2020 rookie class, one that included another offensive lineman in Phillips, but also two Ohio State Buckeyes.

Now, instead of dreading every J.K. Dobbins carry, Bredeson will be blocking for him. 

"Listen, whenever we played them, I just heard the name 'J.K. Dobbins' going over the loudspeaker over and over again," Bredeson said. "I'm happy that I'm going to be blocking for him now, because he's done enough damage against me."

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Why Ben Bredeson can compete for Marshal Yanda's spot on the offensive line originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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