This is the 22nd in a series of scouting reports on key players who are expected to become free agents March 13, unless they are re-signed or franchised before then.
News: The Ravens will be busy trying to secure some of their core players for the long term. They would like to sign QB Joe Flacco to a contract extension, and they figure to either give RB Ray Rice the franchise tag or sign him to a multiyear deal. With both players likely to rank among the better-paid at their position, it's unclear whether the Ravens will be able to keep Grubbs, their starting left guard, as well. "Ben has two major factors that we like: He's a really good player and he's young," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said at season's end. "… But, who will Ben keep us from getting and who will we have to let go in order to keep Ben? That's going to be the balance."
Notes: Grubbs (6-3, 310) was the Ravens' first-round pick in 2007. He has been the starter at left guard since the fifth game of his rookie campaign. Grubbs, who turns 28 on March 10, played in the Pro Bowl for the first time in January. He has appeared in 74 regular-season games, starting 70.
Positives: Grubbs is strong, quick and athletic, a tough matchup for interior D-linemen of all kinds. His movement ability allows him to quickly get to the second level, making him an asset blocking down the field. He has allowed 2½ sacks or less in four of his five NFL seasons, according to STATS LLC. Moreover, he never has been penalized more than three times in any season, and he never has been penalized more than once in any regular-season game. He never has been penalized, period, in the postseason.
Negatives: Grubbs missed six games with a toe injury in 2011 — the first significant injury of his NFL career. While solid in pass protection, Grubbs occasionally struggled in this area in the 2011 postseason, giving up too much ground at times against Houston and New England, with Patriots NT Vince Wilfork pushing him back to QB Joe Flacco on one sack early in the AFC championship game.
Risk factor: Low-to-moderate. Teams have been more willing to pay for top-level guards help in recent years, and Grubbs certainly ranks among the best guards available in free agency.