With Lardarius Webb returning as the leader of the Ravens secondary and Jimmy Smith on the verge of superstardom, the Ravens clearly boast one of the top CB tandems in the conference going into 2014.
If Webb and Smith stay healthy and productive alongside the safety tandem of Matt Elam and Terrence Brooks, the Ravens talented quartet in the secondary has the potential to be a top-10 pass defense and the best Ravens secondary since Chuck Pagano’s motley crue allowed the 4th-fewest passing yards and the fewest passing TD’s in the NFL in 2011.
Behind the dynamic duo, there will be a huge spotlight on Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson this summer in the battle for Nickel CB. Assuming the loser of this battle gets bumped to the Dime CB slot, it leaves presumably only one CB spot left on the roster.
If the Ravens don’t bring in veteran insurance, the contenders for the final corner spot will feature a trio of promising UDFA’s in Avery Patterson, Sammy Seamster, and Ayodeji Olatoye battling it out this summer.
Patterson, 23, was an absolute playmaker at Oregon, recording 198 tackles, 18 PD’s and 7 INT’s for 200 yards and 3 TD’s. Patterson had a career year as a Senior in 2013, recording a career-high 80 tackles, 6 TFL, 6 PD’s, and returning 3 INT’s for 89 yards and a TD.
The former Duck is extremely athletic, runs in the 4.4′s and displays great tackling ability for a 5-8, 191 pound DB while impressing in pass coverage and against the run during his time in Eugene. If he can prove he can do that at the NFL level this summer, he could stick.
Seamster, 23, ended his collegiate career at MTSU with 69 tackles and one pick after an impressive 2013 Senior season in which Seamster played in all 13 games while starting a career-high six games and setting another career-high with 33 tackles and one interception.
While his stats weren’t eye popping with the Blue Raiders, Seamster boasts a size/speed tandem and the skill set that NFL coaches dream about. Listed at 6-0 and 200 pounds, Seamster runs a blazing 4.44 forty to go with a 35” vertical. He also recorded a 10-4 broad jump and 15 reps on the 225-pound bar at Middle Tennessee State’s pro day in March.
The most intriguing part of Seamster’s resume is his skill and potential as a press CB. He excelled in press coverage as a Blue Raider and if he continues to develop that trait, he could be a key player in the Baltimore secondary in a few years. There is a definite reason why twenty teams tried to land Seamster as a UDFA in May, and the Ravens could have hit the jackpot with an excellent post-draft move.
If Seamster proves his worth this preseason, he might just be the unanimous winner in this battle.
Olatoye, 22, is another promising corner with a great size (6-1/198) and speed (4.46 forty time) combination to go along with an insane 98.5” wingspan. If he impresses this summer, he could very well end up earning dark-horse status to make the final 53.
After recording 24 tackles at the University of Colorado in 2010 and 2011, Olatoye transferred to North Carolina A&T and would go on to record 78 tackles, 18 PD’s and 5 INT’s in 21 games for the Aggies in 2012 and 2013. As a Senior in 2013, Olatoye recorded 39 tackles to go with a career-high 11 PD’s and 2 INT’s.
To go along with his intangibles, Olatoye displayed tremendous ball skills and was very impressive in pass coverage during his two years in Greensboro. If he makes an impact this summer, look for the Ravens to try to stash him on the practice squad, but Olatoye is definitely a name to watch out for in the future.
Without a doubt, the battle for the final CB spot between these three young and motivated rookies looks to be an intense one all summer long.
Let the games begin…