By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens have one of the best cornerback combinations in the National Football League. It’s a fact. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are superstars at their position. Jimmy Smith came back while everyone has their fingers crossed that Tavon Young can stay healthy.
The Ravens have their starting safeties too, with DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark. When the purple and black had to part ways with Earl Thomas before last season, we weren’t sure that Elliott would be the answer at free safety. Well, it’s worked out.
The Ravens secondary has a lot to boast about. When you consider that pass rush has been too scarce, the secondary is passing the test with aces all around. The Ravens have had some focus on the secondary this offseason, though it hasn’t specifically been for the 2021 Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens had two picks go to the secondary in the 2021 NFL Draft. They drafted Brandon Stephens from SMU. They also picked up Shaun Wade from Ohio State. While both of these players are technically listed as cornerbacks, Stephens is projected to play safety and special teams.
Both rookie defensive backs have things you can bet on. The Ravens have to have a plan for Stephens if they took him with the 104th overall pick. Stephens has the type of build the Ravens typically look for at the safety position and he’s a good athlete.
While Elliott and Clark are safe as the starters, adding another young safety to the mix isn’t a bad idea. Neither Elliott or Clark would be classified as stars. Stephens can chip in right away with some snaps on defense and a ton of work on special teams and he could end up being a future starter.
For Wade it’s his Ohio State pedigree and his traits. Wade projects to be a lot like a bigger Tavon Young with better reach and height. If Wade pans out, the future at the nickel cornerback spot should be filled. Wade may even end up being a future starter on the outside.
The Ravens also brought in Are’Darius Washington as an undrafted free agent out of TCU. Washington is an undersized defensive back who could use some time to develop. In the 2019 season, he had five interceptions for the Horned Frogs. He has ball skills and speed. That’s another safety that may get a chance to develop under Clark and Elliott.
The Ravens have some credibility when it comes from maximizing the value of defensive backs taken late in the NFL Draft process. Clark and Elliott were both six round picks. Young, whose only problem is staying healthy, was a fourth round selection. The Ravens have gotten more than most thought they would from those three players.
The Bottom Line:
There is a ton of competition at safety and almost all of the names in the mix are young. Two names that will be fighting for a roster spot this preseason are Nigel Warrior and Geno Stone. At cornerback, it may be too early to write of Iman Marshall and you can’t forget about Anthony Averett.
The Ravens have one of the most stacked rosters in the NFL. The focus isn’t going to be on the depth and developing players of their secondary. It is something worth paying attention to however, something that will only get more important as time goes on.
The starters in the secondary, you already know. After that, things get interesting. This may be the area with the most competition that isn’t being talked about. People sleep on the depth of the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive backs, because they have so much confidence in the starters.
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The Baltimore Ravens most important defensive backs for the 2021 season won’t include a lot of the players we’ve talked about here today. That being said, the Ravens are building the future at the safety and cornerback positions. This is smart team building as there is no such thing as too many defensive backs.