Tavon Young was the Ravens’ first of 5 picks in the 4th round in 2016, and is already paying big dividends. Young played 20 snaps (+1 more negated by penalty) versus the Browns as the nickel in obvious passing situations.
I want to try something new this week and break down his play with my observations of every one of his snaps versus the Browns.
The primary reason I selected Young is that the Ravens had big difficulties getting off the field on 3rd and 4th down (they allowed 11.3 YPP on the 16 3rd and 4th down conversion attempts). Young’s responsibility set included all of those plays with the exception of a single 3rd-and-2 situation. This is one of the most extreme cases of a single player doing well within an awful team context.
I’m going to start with the following grading scale:
1: The DB made an outstanding play that had a significant positive impact on the game. Young had 2 such plays in this game. A pick 6 falls in this category, but so does a clean open field tackle to deny a first down after allowing a completion, and most PDs.
2: The DB had exemplary coverage that shut down any reasonable opportunity to throw to his assigned receiver or zone.
3: The DB followed his assignment, but there was either no receiver in his zone or his coverage was just OK. I’m also going to use this as a catch-all category when the player simply wasn’t involved.
4: The DB was not targeted directly, but he did something that didn’t look good away from the play.
5: The DB had a hand in allowing a completion the team was trying to avoid, but either the play was difficult to defense or the result was not terribly damaging
6: The DB was beaten or outplayed badly to surrender a play which significantly changed the game. Key 3rd-down conversions or missed tackles usually fall in this category, as would anything worse.
This grading scale is intended as a straw dog. I’d like to have your help inspecting its usefulness for this game, and offer your commentary on a different structure. If you have Game Pass with the coaches’ video, it takes just a few minutes to go through this table of plays from the index provided.
Here are my observations of Young versus the Browns:
Some additional notes:
– I think a reasonable aggregate grade would be the average of all of his ratings that are not a 3. For this game, that’s 2.3 for him. We’ll need more observations to know how good that is relative to other performances.
– Young completely shut down slot receiver Andrew Hawkins in this game, who was his primary responsibility.
– Some may say Hawkins is past his prime at age 30, but he was effective in this game (3 catches for 28 yards, 2 FDs), just not when covered by Young. Hawkins converted 2 3rd downs, including a missed tackle from Shareece Wright (Q1, 13:42) and is one of McCown’s favorite targets to make a play from short of the sticks.
– Young has great closing speed to make tackles, just what you want from a 3rd down defender from whom tackles short of the marker are expected.
– His ball skills were not on display in this game, but I expect he’ll have his hands on the football plenty this season given the tight man coverage on Hawkins noted above.
– He’s made an odd tackle attempt on Clay’s 33-yard reception in the first game, but he showed good physicality to take down Barnidge and Pryor on the final drive, who are both bigger men.
– While he passed this test with flying colors, Hawkins is 5’7” and Young will face exclusively bigger receivers who will present other matchup problems for him.