The Ravens have made improving the secondary a priority in recent seasons, particularly at the cornerback position. They used a fourth-round pick and first-round pick to select Tavon Young and Marlon Humphrey in back-to-back drafts, and also signed Brandon Carr in free agency ahead of the 2017 season.
Baltimore’s investments at the position have paid off, as their cornerback group is arguably the now deepest, most-talented in the league. The fact that Jimmy Smith is now the third, maybe even the fourth best corner on the team speaks to the depth the Ravens have. This is no way a slight towards smith, either, but a testament to the skill level of Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, and Tavon Young.
If you move further down the depth chart, the Ravens have the likes of Anthony Averett, Maurice Canady, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste, three talented young guys who have flashed upside and possess untapped potential. With Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith no longer setting the edge, the Ravens pass rush figures to take at least a small step back next season. If the pass rush is less effective, the play of Baltimore’s cornerbacks becomes even more crucial to the success of the defense.
Barring any unforeseen injuries or developments prior to the season, the Ravens will return the same group of guys from last season. Check out these bold predictions below and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section!
Marlon Humphrey has performed a very high level since entering the league two years ago. However, even after taking a step forward in his development last season and performing as the 11th-best cornerback in the league, it still feels as though he doesn’t receive the national recognition that he deserves. I believe this is the year that changes. The heading above may seem a bit confusing, so allow me to explain. Humphrey recently announced that his new jersey number is 44, which is the number his father wore during his playing years. If you add four and four together, you get eight – the number of interceptions I envision Humphrey recording next year.
Only four players have accomplished this feat since the 2015 season: Reggie Nelson, Marcus Peters, Darius Slay, and Kevin Byard. The last Ravens player to post eight interceptions was Ed Reed in 2010. Eric Weddle came the closest to matching this benchmark two seasons ago when he recorded six. Humphrey has just four career interceptions in two seasons, so expecting that number to suddenly jump to eight seems a bit far-fetched. However, these are bold predictions for a reason. Humphrey has great ball skills and possesses the athleticism to hold his own against almost any receiver in the league. Humphrey has been rock-solid for two straight seasons, but this third year is when he’ll truly ascend to elite status at the position.